We often speak of hernia as if it’s just one condition. But actually, there are several different types of hernias.
A hernia is a soft lump or bulge that pushes through the muscle wall. Hernias usually form in the stomach or groin area. They can cause pain, especially when you strain, cough, or move in certain ways.
The various hernia types present in different ways and have different causes.
The Most Common Hernia Type: Inguinal Hernia
An inguinal hernia is when part of the stomach pushes through a weak spot in the muscle wall. This pushing through tends to happen near the groin area.
Inguinal hernias are most common in men. In fact, about 27% of men will develop an inguinal hernia at some point in their lives. (Only 3% of women will.)
There are genetic factors that make inguinal hernias more likely to happen. Some people have weaker connective tissue. A baby can actually be born with an inguinal hernia but may not have symptoms until later.
People are also more likely to develop inguinal hernias with age because their muscle tissue gets weaker. Most people with inguinal hernias will need hernia surgery.
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Other Common Types of Hernia
There are five other common types of hernia that we see here at the Comprehensive Hernia Center.
A femoral hernia is a painful lump near your groin, high up on the inside of your thigh. It’s very similar to an inguinal hernia, but the abdominal tissue pushes through the muscle wall in a slightly different spot.
Femoral hernias are more common in women. Women sometimes get them due to childbirth. The bulge may start out small and grow, which needs medical treatment.
An umbilical hernia happens when tissue pushes through your abdominal wall around the belly button. Babies sometimes get umbilical hernias, though they often disappear within the first 2 years.
Being overweight is a risk factor for developing an umbilical hernia. Having multiple pregnancies also increases your risk. They usually need surgery to repair, especially if they are large and causing pain.
If you have abdominal surgery, you have scar tissue around the incision. A hernia can form here, especially if you strain or lift before the incision heals.
People who smoke or have diabetes are more at risk for this type of hernia because they heal more slowly.
This hernia happens in the upper part of your stomach, between the breastbone and the belly button.
It’s often present at birth without people knowing. Coughing, straining, pregnancy, or heavy lifting can cause it to become noticeable. If it starts to cause pain, you likely need treatment.
Hiatal hernias form in the diaphragm, and you usually can’t see them from the outside. (This is why they are also called diaphragmatic hernias.)
They can cause heartburn or a feeling of fullness. Small ones may go away, but larger ones usually require surgery.
What About Sports Hernia?
Sports hernia is a misnomer because it doesn’t have a visible bulge or lump. Patients often use the term sports hernia though. The actual medical term is athletic pubalgia.
Athletic pubalgia is a core muscle injury — a tear in the soft tissue around your groin. It usually happens due to the quick, twisting maneuvers that athletes do in sports such as basketball and hockey.
The pain usually goes away with rest, but returns with activity. With extended rest, a sports hernia may go away. Sometimes this injury requires treatment with surgery though.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have a Hernia?
This is an easy one: Make an appointment with your doctor.
The experts at UPMC can diagnose your type of hernia and repair it. That way, you can get back to the court … or just back to enjoying your grandkids.
National Library of Medicine. Hernias: Overview. Link.
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