A hernia is a gap or space in the strong tissue that holds muscles in place. A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal muscle have weakened, resulting in a bulge or tear. In the same way that an inner tube pushes through a damaged tire, the inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area of the abdominal wall to form a small balloon like sac. This can allow a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to push into the sac. The hernia can cause discomfort, severe pain, or other potentially serious problems that could require emergency surgery.
• Both men and women can get a hernia.
• You may be born with a hernia (congenital) or develop one over time.
• A hernia does not get better over time, nor will it go away by itself. There are no exercises or physical therapy regimen that can make a hernia go away.
A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes up into the chest through a small opening in the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the abdomen from the chest.
Incisional hernias occur at or in close proximity to a surgical incision through which intestinal or other tissue protrudes. All abdominal surgery carries the risk of a postoperative incisional hernia due to a weakening of the muscle from the incision.
Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia. An inguinal hernia occurs in the groin area, where a section of intestine pushes through a weak spot in the inguinal canal—a triangle-shaped opening between layers of abdominal muscle.
An umbilical hernia occurs at the umbilicus (belly button) when a loop of intestine pushes through the umbilical ring, a small opening in a fetus’ abdominal muscles through which the umbilical cord passes.
A ventral (abdominal) hernia is any protrusion of intestine or other tissue through a weakness or gap in the anterior abdominal wall. Umbilical and incisional hernias are specific and common types of ventral hernias.