Groin hernias or inguinal hernias are often little troublemakers. They don’t bother you for a long time but just persist as a little bulge in your pants. But when they become problematic, they can cause quite a bit of pain.
Inguinal hernias are groin swellings, which occur when there is a defect in your abdominal wall. These defects can contain protruded intestine or abdominal fat. In most men with a hernia, they are painless because. So, we tend to ignore them and leave it aside. But we forget to realize that this is the best time to get a hernia operated on. When your hernia is small and painless, surgery is easy and recovery is faster. When they do grow big and painful, the surgery is a bit longer. However, choosing a well-trained hernia surgeon is important.
What are the complications in a hernia?
In most men, hernias don’t cause complications. But in some people, they can cause complications.
Pain in hernias is a dragging pain that can cause discomfort. It might be a warning sign for more serious complications. If you have pain, we suggest that you consult an experienced hernia surgeon right away.
Severe constipation could indicate that your bowels are blocked due to the hernia. when you are not able to pass stools, it means you need to consult your doctor immediately. You might need urgent surgery. This condition is called obstruction. Most patients will have vomiting too.
When your bowel gets blocked, sometimes the blood supply to the bowel gets cut. This means that the bowel is starting to die. If you have strangulation, you will see that your groin becomes red and painful. This is the most serious complication and can be life-threatening. Patients need to be operated on immediately. You shouldn’t keep your hernia long enough for this complication to occur.
When should you see your doctor?
Consult your surgeon immediately if you have any of the following
- Swelling which doesn’t go back into your abdomen
- Vomiting or nausea
- Sudden pain in your groin
- Not able to pass stools or gas
I am sure no one wants these complications. It is always best to get your hernias operated soon. Do remember that hernias are small problems when treated early, Modern surgical practice indicates that we operate on most hernias, Wait and watch policy is followed only when patients are not fit for surgery. Even in older patients, hernias can be operated on safely. In patients who are not fit for major surgeries under general anesthesia, the hernia can be operated on under local anesthesia. In my practice in Chennai, I have operated on more than 100 patients with hernias who were over the age of 80 and considered unfair for general anesthesia.
Do remember to consult an experienced hernia surgeon if you think you have a hernia. In the next blog, we will talk about surgical options available for treating hernias.
Dr (Major) R S Rengan MS, DNB, FAIS, DLS (France)
Consultant General, Laparoscopic and Hernia Surgeon
Founder & Chief Surgeon – HoH Surgical Centre & Chennai Hernia Centre