Living With a Hernia

“Weird Al” Yankovic’s 1986 album Polka Party included a parody of James Brown’s “Living in America” called “Living with a Hernia.” Actually living with a hernia, however, is no cause for song.

A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue pokes through a weak spot in the surrounding muscles or tissue. There are many forms of hernias that may be located in many areas of the body. Each of these types of hernia benefits from its own form of treatment. Some hernias go away on their own with time, while others may require surgical correction. Not all patients are good candidates for surgery, and their doctors may recommend other forms of treatment.

Perhaps the most common non-surgical treatment for a hernia is compression garments. Compression garments, such as trusses, binders, or corsets,  hold the hernia in place by putting pressure on the abdominal wall. These garments are temporary solutions. These types of garments may cause rubbing and irritation, potentially leading to skin breakdown and infection, so it is important to not become overly reliant on them.

A hernia patient may need to follow restrictions specific to the type of hernia he/she has. For most forms of hernia, patients should avoid heavy lifting and smoking. Some hernias may cause pain during intercourse. Patients who are overweight may be especially susceptible to hernias, so if a hernia develops it is important for the patient to try to maintain physical activity and a healthy diet to prevent weight gain. Straining during bowel movements may also cause irritation for some forms of hernia, making it important to maintain healthy bowel habits – eating fiber, drinking enough water, and voiding the bowels when the urge comes may all contribute to healthy bowel movements, reducing the need to strain.

If you suspect you have a hernia, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she can provide an accurate diagnosis and help determine the best course of action for your individual condition and lifestyle.


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