If you have a lump in your groin or your belly button, you may have a hernia. Of course, there are many other possible causes for a lump in the groin and you need to see a doctor to confirm the diagnosis. However, if you do have a hernia, you may be thinking about whether or not this needs treatment. Here I will provide more information about different kinds of hernias and treatment options.

If you would like an appointment to discuss having your hernia hernia or if you are considering surgery, you can make an appointment with me here

What is a hernia?

The word “hernia” is from the Latin word “rupture”. A hernia is a protrusion of the lining of the abdominal cavity known as the peritoneum through a weakness in the muscles of the abdominal wall . Most commonly this is encountered in the groin but can happen in other areas. It often contains intestine or other abdominal contents and it usually presents as a lump. This is completely asymptomatic in about one third of patients, although some patients complain of discomfort which is typically described as a ‘dragging sensation’. Very rarely, hernias can be life-threatening if the bowel within the peritoneal sac strangulates and/or becomes obstructed. You will know if this happens because the pain is very severe, and most patients become very unwell. Around 98% of inguinal hernias are found in men because of male anatomy, but women are also commonly affected.

Should I have my hernia fixed?

If your hernia causes you no symptoms and there is no significant cosmetic problem from the lump, it is quite safe to leave it. Several studies have shown that watchful waiting is safe, but in patients who pursue this strategy, about one quarter will come to surgery within two years and 70% will undergo surgery at 10 years. Importantly, the risk of requiring emergency surgery for a strangulated hernia is very low (3% at two years). So, it really comes down to how much the hernia bothers you and how you feel about the risk of having surgery. This conversation varies from patient to patient as some may have health problems that makes having an operation more difficult.

If you are symptomatic, then surgery is  recommended. Similarly, if your hernia prevents you from doing your job or engaging in any form of physical activity then you should think about having it repaired.

Epigastric hernia

An Epigastric hernia is a protrusion normally seen noted between the xiphoid process (breast bone) and the umbilicus (navel) as a result of weakness or opening of the underlying muscles or tendons.

Incisional hernias

An incisional hernia is a protrusion, which occurs through a defect in the site of a previous abdominal incision/ scar.

Inguinal hernias

An Inguinal hernia is a protrusion in the lower abdomen/ groin area. It often presents predominantly with a bulge in the groin area but can also present with pain and sometimes a burning sensation.


Sportsmans hernia

A Sportsmans hernia is a condition characterised by chronic groin pain. There is no definable hernia identified with a rupture of muscles or tendons in the inguinal canal often attributed to the cause of the condition. Many professional footballers have had surgery for this condition.

Other common definitions include:

  • Athletic pubalgia
  • Incipient hernia
  • Pubic inguinal pain syndrome
  • Pubic Symphysitis
  • Inguinal Disruption

Umbilical/ Paraumbilical hernia

An umbilical hernia is a protusion directly at the belly-button or navel. A hernia around the belly-button is commonly know as a para-umbilical hernia. Your surgeon will be able to distinguish between the two tyoes of hernia, but there is no difference in the type of repair required.

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