When to worry about Hernia pain

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

A hernia occurs when an internal part of the body pushes through a weakness or opening in the muscle or surrounding tissue that usually holds it in place.

Hernias usually occur in the abdomen or groin area. They can be painful and cause a bulge-like appearance.

Although most hernias aren’t immediately life-threatening, if left untreated, they can lead to serious complications, so it’s important to know the signs and symptoms that indicate when you should seek medical attention.


What are the signs and symptoms of a hernia?

Typically, those with hernias will feel a bulge in their abdomen or groin area, which can get worse or become painful when exercising, coughing, sneezing, or lifting something heavy. The bulge can sometimes be pushed back in or may disappear when you lie down.


What are the types of hernias?

There are many different types of hernias, however, some of the most common are:

Inguinal hernia

This type of hernia is more common in men and occurs when part of the intestine or bladder pokes through into your groin near the top of your inner thigh.

Femoral hernia

This is similar to an inguinal hernia but is less common. Femoral hernias occur in the lower abdomen or hip as well as the groin and upper thigh.

Hiatal hernia

Hiatal hernias occur when the upper part of your stomach pushes up into the chest by squeezing through an opening in the diaphragm.

Spigelian hernia

A Spigelian hernia affects the Spigelian muscle tissue, which goes between two layers of abdominal muscle.

Umbilical hernia

This type of hernia is common in babies and young children and usually appears near the belly button.

Ventral hernia

Also known as abdominal hernia, this type occurs when tissue bulges through a weakness in the abdominal wall.


What does it mean if your hernia starts hurting?

Hernia pain can occur for several reasons. Localised pain around the hernia may be caused by the tissues around the hole being stretched or torn.

Pain may also increase if your hernia grows, as this can cause additional pressure and strain around the area.

If the nerves around the hernia site become irritated, this may cause a pinching of the nerves, which can cause referred pain in other parts of the body.

The pain you feel may be a sharp shooting pain, a dull ache, or a feeling of intense pressure around where the bulge is.


Should I worry if my hernia hurts?

Although it’s normal to experience some hernia pain when you exercise, bend over, cough, sneeze, or lift something heavy, if the pain gets worse or you develop a sudden pain, you should contact your doctor immediately for advice.


How do you know if hernia pain is serious?

Although hernias are treatable, they can cause serious complications, such as hernia incarceration or strangulation, if left untreated. This occurs when a part of the intestines has become trapped in the abdominal wall and has lost its blood supply, meaning the intestine tissue is at risk of dying, which can be life-threatening.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should seek emergency medical advice:

  • Discolouration of the bulge, such as becoming red, purple, or generally darker than usual
  • Changes to the hernia, for example, if it becomes firm, tender, or if it cannot be pushed back in
  • Pain that worsens or comes on suddenly
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Constipation or difficulty passing gas

Hernias are treatable and can be repaired with surgery. At Ramsay, we have a team of expert consultants who regularly perform hernia surgery and can recommend the best course of treatment for you. We provide rapid and easy access to appointments and surgery so we can evaluate and treat you as quickly as possible.

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