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Hernia Stages

We show the typical stages of the treatment of hernias as well as gently introducing some of the medical terminology.

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Stage 1 - Denial

A swelling under the skin of your abdomen appears. You may have a bulging or tearing sensation in the abdominal area; but some patients will not feel any pain and not even consider a diagnosis. 

Stage 2 - Diagnosis

Your lump/bump is obviously not going to go away on its own so a proper medical diagnosis becomes necessary. Your doctor will classify your hernia and either suggest elective surgery or a period of 'watchful waiting'. Factors affecting this judgment will be:

  • Your age, job type and lifestyle.
  • Other health factors that might affect surgery.
  • If you are in pain or not (symptomatic or asymptomatic).
  • The size of your hernia.
     

Stage 3 - 'The Watchful Waiting' debate

Rather than immediate surgery, some doctors may advocate a 'watch and wait' strategy post diagnosis. For hernias where it is classified as 'reducible' and merely a nuisance this may be a typical option and is published policy at least in some UK health trusts. The 2009 McKinsey report on NHS cost savings put asymptomatic hernia in the same categories as stretch marks and tatoo removal i.e. 'not-normally-funded'.
As such, many NHS Trusts still decline elective requests for inguinal hernias as a cost-saving measure. There is some medical evidence to contradict this approach as medical emergencies for strangulated hernias almost doubled in the cohort that were 'watchful waiting' in the trial. From a pure cost-saving measure it seems that the watchful-waiting policy is flawed and that routine preemptive surgery really is beneficial.

Either pre-surgery or 'watchful-waiting'  our Hernia underwear can provide relief from discomfort and prevent the hernia expanding.

Stage 4 - Lifestyle Change

This stage is under your control, what you do in this period effects the final surgical outcome. Typical advice (depending on your profile and health) might be to loose weight, stop smoking, and change to a more healthy high-fibre diet. 

Stage 5 - Surgery

Two broad types of surgery are possible:

  1. Using a plastic mesh net insertion to form a supportive barrier inside the body. 
  2. A stitched method that requires more skill and specialisation.

While the former is more common there is medical evidence of up to 20% post operation pain in the region from mesh surgery so there is a growing view that managing your hernia for as long as is comfortable before the operation may be preferable to the risk of post operative complications. See Hernia Surgery. 

Stage 6 - Recovery

Post any operation the hernia site becomes vulnerable to a incisional hernia  because the abdomen tissue wall has been cut. At this stage our briefs can be worn without the supporting pad post-operation in consultation with your surgeon. Approximately 20% of all hernias post-surgery will reoccur (Source: UK Daily Mail).

Stage 7 - Preventitive

By a combination of diet, gentle exercise and safe lifting it is possible to control the weak area of the muscle wall after the hernia is under control.

 

Related Inguinal Hernia articles you might find interesting:

Why are men being refused surgery for their hernias? Daily Mail 22nd June 2009

Just a day after my hernia operation I was back in the Gym Daily Mail 12th November 2012

The genius of using pigskin for hernia repair Daily Mail 18th February 2012

Hernia Surgery offers value for money - research Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine

Hip disorder can cause Sports Hernia  American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine 2011

Comparing open surgical and minimally invasive hernia repair techniques Archives of Surgery

NHS Decision Aid - on Inguinal Hernia.

You are not alone - some famous names who had a hernia

Dwayne Johnson

Keith Duffy

Madonna

Ken Dodd