Types of Hernias

by Sharon Hopkins

If you find a soft lump or bulge in your belly or groin, it may be a hernia. Hernias occur when an internal organ protrudes through the muscle wall or into another cavity. This can happen in the intestine, the stomach, or any place where the muscles walls have been weakened by damage or surgery in the past.

In most cases, the hernia lump will go away when you press on it or lie down on it. It could also be painful when you bend over or lift something heavy or even when you cough.

There are different types of hernias that affect men and women. Some common types of hernias include:

  • Inguinal Hernia - Inguinal hernia is the most common type of hernia in men. Here the hernial sac protrudes into the inguinal canal in the groin where the thigh joins the torso. Inguinal hernias are of two types - direct and indirect inguinal hernias.
  • Femoral Hernia - In a hernia of this type, the bowel or intestine protrudes through the femoral ring in the front thigh. Femoral hernias account for nearly 17% of hernia cases. Femoral hernias are a common type of hernia in women and are particularly risky as they cannot be pushed back into place and strangulated. Femoral hernias therefore need immediate evaluation by your doctor.
  • Umbilical Hernia - Infants and boys are more likely to develop umbilical hernia as do people who are obese or middle aged. This type of hernia develops on the navel or in the surrounding umbilicus areas and the hernia protrudes through weak abdomen muscles. Giving birth puts undue pressure on the already weakened abdominal muscles and this may also give rise to an umbilical hernia.
  • Incisional Hernia - If you have had any type of abdominal surgery, the muscles walls tends to be weakened. This can create an area where a hernia may develop. Even after various types of hernia repair, an incisional area may recur.
  • Epigastric Hernia - An epigastric hernia occurs between the lower rib cage and the navel. Epigastric hernias are generally painless and consist largely of fatty tissue rather than organs such as the intestine.
  • Hiatus Hernia - There are two different types of hiatal hernia - the sliding hiatus hernia and the rolling hiatus hernia. Both occur when the upper part of the stomach protrudes into the chest cavity or thorax usually through a hole in the esophagus. Common symptoms of hiatal hernia include acid reflux, regurgitation, and pain in the chest and stomach. A sliding hiatal hernia may slide up and down in the lower chest and is quite small in size. In a rolling hiatus hernia, the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm into the chest cavity.
  • Other less common types of hernia include spigelian hernia, obturator hernia, ventral hernia and obtuator hernia.

Irrespective of the type of hernia, most produce no visible symptoms or cause much pain. Most hernias can be strangulated or have their blood supply cut off. Types of hernia repair depend on where the hernia is located and the size of the hernial sac. It is always important to seek medical advice for an accurate diagnosis and to receive the proper treatment.


  1. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000960.htm

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