What Causes a Hernia and How Is It Treated?

Posted on 2022/12/08 by Laparoscopic Surgical Center of New York

You have an abdominal wall that keeps your internal organs in place. However, a hernia can occur when this wall weakens and develops a hole, causing internal organs to poke through. People with a hernia usually have a painful bulge that protrudes when they strain or cough. 


There are many types of hernias, and each type can cause unique symptoms. The causes vary depending on the type of hernia you have. Generally, they are more common in men, overweight individuals, older people, and smokers. There is no way to guarantee that you will not develop a hernia. Fortunately, a healthy lifestyle can lower your likelihood of developing one. 


It is essential to seek medical attention if you suspect you may have a hernia. That is because hernias do not usually heal without treatment and can cause complications if left untreated. However, they are easy to diagnose based on your symptoms and a physical exam. Sometimes, doctors may order an MRI or CT scan to rule out other possible conditions. 


What Is a Hernia?


A muscular wall known as the peritoneum keeps the abdominal organs in place. An internal organ may herniate or protrude when this wall has a hole or is weak. That usually creates a localized lump or bulge in the abdominal or groin area, known as a hernia. 


A hernia can be excruciating, especially when you sneeze, cough, bend over, strain to use the restroom, or lift something heavy. These activities can cause the hernia bulge to become more prominent, but people can usually push it back afterward. 


While hernias are not usually dangerous, they do not heal independently. Often, they require surgery to repair. They can cause complications like intestinal strangulation or bowel obstruction without proper treatment.


Types of Hernias


All types of hernias have to do with the protruding of an internal organ through a muscular wall. However, different types of hernias affect various areas of the body. The most common include the following:


  • Inguinal hernia

  • Femoral hernia

  • Umbilical hernia

  • Hiatal hernia

  • Incisional hernia

  • Diaphragmatic hernia

  • Epigastric hernia

  • Spigelian hernia




At the most basic level, hernias result from weakened muscles that allow fatty tissues or organs to pass through. Perhaps you were born with weak muscles or developed weakened muscles as you age. Other causes include:


  • Obesity

  • Physical exertion involving the abdomen

  • Straining due to chronic constipation

  • Frequent, severe coughing

  • Straining to urinate

  • Pregnancy

  • Giving birth

  • Liver problems that cause fluid accumulation in the abdomen

  • Straining the abdominal area repeatedly

  • Injury to the abdomen

  • Lung conditions that cause chronic coughing

  • Frequent straining to lift heavy objects

  • Falls that injure the diaphragm area

  • Gunshot or stab wounds

  • Abdominal area surgeries




If your hernia is not causing pain, discomfort, or other symptoms and you can push it back in, your doctor may recommend a watch-and-wait approach. However, most hernias require surgery to repair. Standard surgical procedures to treat a hernia include robotic hernia repair, laparoscopic surgery, and open surgery.


It is best to see your doctor if you have signs and symptoms of a hernia. These include abdominal pain, constantly feeling full, grain pain, pain while performing strenuous activities, gradual increase in the bulge’s size, and more. Your doctor will diagnose your condition and determine the appropriate steps to manage and treat your condition. 


For more about hernias, visit the Laparoscopic Surgical Center of New York at our office in New York, New York. Call (212) 879-6677 to book an appointment today.

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