If I rest and take it easy, will my hernia heal on its own?
This is one of the most common questions doctors are asked about hernias.
And the answer is NO, it WILL NOT:
Hernias will never go away or heal by themselves. Thus, hernias need to be repaired. Unfortunately, there is no lotion, potion, medication, exercise, or physical therapy that will cure a hernia. Hernias require surgery to repair. But, just as hernias are so common, so is hernia surgery. Surgical treatment is extremely common and that's all we do at Advanced Hernia Specialists (AHS). We repair hernias almost every day.
In the majority of cases, if not treated, hernias will progress and become larger over time, often eventually causing symptoms (or worsening symptoms). In some cases, they can develop to a point where they can cause severe and even life-threatening complications. We are here to educate you about hernias, to try and help you avoid these complications, and to help you get your hernia treated to remove your risk of developing such complications before it becomes an emergency.
So, as noted in the section on different types of hernias, if you notice a bulge, lump, or swelling in your groin or abdomen and are also experiencing pain, especially if you cannot push the hernia contents back inside, then you should make an appointment with a HERNIA SURGEON as soon as possible. A hernia causing pain can quickly, and unexpectedly, develop into an emergency. A hernia that has intestine or other organs protruding can cause the blood supply to that intestine or other organs to be compromised, therefore depriving those tissues of oxygen. Without oxygen, intestine or other organs will die, and this situation can lead to perforation or sepsis, or both. This condition is called "Strangulation," and can absolutely be life-threatening without immediate surgical intervention.
IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SEVERE PAIN, IF YOU NOTE ANY CHANGE IN THE SKIN COLOR (RED OR PURPLE) OVER THE HERNIA, AND ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE ALSO EXPERIENCING ANY OF THE FOLLOWING, ABDOMINAL BLOATING, NAUSEA, VOMITING, ABDOMINAL PAIN, FEVER OR CHILLS, YOU NEED TO CALL 911 OR GO TO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY. YOU CAN DIE IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE EMERGENCY SURGERY.
However, until you can get in to see a hernia surgeon and have your hernia repaired, there are some things you can do to help decrease and perhaps prevent the development of serious complications.
As noted in the section on "What causes a hernia."
Avoid strenuous activity:
Heavy lifting, strenuous activity, and exercise tighten your core muscles and increase your intra-abdominal pressure. Therefore, these activities tend to make hernias more pronounced, and more symptomatic (more pressure, discomfort, or pain), thereby increasing your risk for the development of severe complications.
If you avoid such activities, you may be able to mitigate your risks until you can have your hernia repaired.
It has been studied, and research proves that overweight and obese people have higher intra-abdominal pressures (even at rest) than healthy weighted individuals. If you are overweight or obese, you are automatically at risk for complications related to a hernia. Add to that any physical activity and you significantly increase your risk for hernia related complications. In addition, if a person is obese, it has been shown that they have a significantly increased risk for surgical complications during and after surgery, as well as for hernia recurrence after surgery. So for these reasons, if you are overweight or obese, it will significantly help you (and your surgeon) if you lose weight.
If your hernia suddenly increases in size and becomes uncomfortable or painful, the first thing to do is try to push it back in. If you cannot push it back in, you really should seek medical attention as soon as possible. However, if you are not in severe pain, you can try these maneuvers prior to going to the emergency room. The first thing to do is to lay down flat, or if possible, tilted with your head lower than your feet. Place an ice pack on the hernia for 15 minutes (taking care to protect your skin from the ice with a towel or blanket). Then gently try to massage and push the hernia back in.
IF YOU CANNOT PUSH THE HERNIA BACK IN, OR IF IT IS TOO PAINFUL TO PUSH ON, OR YOU ARE IN SEVERE PAIN, THEN GO TO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIETLY.
THIS IS NOT A TAKE SOME PAIN MEDICINE AND LAY DOWN FOR AWHILE SITUATION, THIS IS AN EMERGENCY AND YOU NEED TO CALL 911 OR GO TO THE NEAREST EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY. REMEMBER, YOU CAN DIE FROM THIS!
You can likely avoid such complications by making an appointment with a Hernia Surgeon and having your hernia repaired. Surgery for most hernias is a simple outpatient surgery that takes less than an hour and you go home soon after. In a short time, you will be back to living your life, pain free, and without the worry of developing a life-threatening emergency situation.
And as noted above, hernias will not heal on their own. They only get worse over time. They become larger, often symptomatic (or more symptomatic). The time to repair a hernia is when it is first diagnosed.
Repairing a hernia is important for 3 reasons:
1. It will not go away or heal on its own. They always get worse over time.
2. The longer you wait, the bigger it gets and the more complicated it becomes.
3. The bigger and more complicated it gets, the higher the risk of containing intestine or other organs and therefore the higher the risk of severe complications leading to emergency surgery, the higher the risk of surgery and surgical complications, and the higher risk of death. In addition, the larger and more complex the hernia is, there is a significant increase in the risk of recurrence (that the hernia will come back).
Take the Next Step:
Come and see us at Advanced Hernia Specialists. We have the most experience and are considered experts in the field of hernia surgery. We perform hernia repairs almost every day. We are committed to delivering excellent care and the best patient outcomes possible, with a less than 1% recurrence rate (chance of coming back) for most hernias, which is much lower than that of most other surgeons. We offer the most cost-effective options, as well as the most advanced laparoscopic, minimally invasive, and robotic surgical techniques for hernia repair.