If you noticed a sudden pain in the groin or a sensation as if something had torn, you may be right. A hernia is a weakness or tears in the abdominal muscle wall, which normally holds the inner lining of the abdomen and internal organs in place (i.e. inside, where they belong). The weakness or tear allows the inner lining to protrude and form a pouch. The bulge you might see is usually a loop of the intestine protruding through the tear in the muscle and into that pouch.
Contrary to popular myth (about lifting heavy objects), you didn’t cause your hernia. Most people are born with a weakness in the muscle, which eventually gives way, or an opening that didn’t close up (as it usually does) before birth.
Hernias can commonly be found in the following areas:
Groin: a femoral hernia creates a bulge just below the groin. This is more common in women. An inguinal hernia is more common in men. It is a bulge in the groin that may reach the scrotum.
The upper part of the stomach: a hiatal or hiatus hernia is caused by the upper part of the stomach pushing out of the abdominal cavity and into the chest cavity through an opening in the diaphragm.
Belly button: a bulge in this region is produced by an umbilical or periumbilical hernia.
Surgical scar: past abdominal surgery can lead to an incisional hernia through the scar.
The most common symptom of a hernia is a bulge or lump in the affected area. In the case of an inguinal hernia, you may notice a lump on either side of your pubic bone where your groin and thigh meet. Other common symptoms of an inguinal hernia include:
Hernias are caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain. Depending on its cause, a hernia can develop quickly or over a long period of time.
Common causes of muscle weakness include failure of the abdominal wall to close properly in the womb, which is a congenital defect.
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