When To Worry About Hernia Pain

Hernias are a common medical condition that can cause varying degrees of discomfort and pain. Many patients suffer from debilitating abdominal pain, often because they and their doctors are unaware of the options. At The Iskandar Complex Hernia Center, we offer complex hernia surgery and advanced abdominal procedures with unparalleled empathy and expertise, so you can enjoy a dramatically improved quality of life. This article will help you understand when to worry about hernia pain and provide valuable insights into hernia symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and when to seek medical attention.

What are the characteristics of hernia pain?

Hernia pain can have several characteristics that vary from person to person. The severity, duration, and location of the pain can all be different for each patient depending on the type of hernia, its location, and its complexity.


Hernia pain can range from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain.


Pain from a hernia can be acute, occurring suddenly and lasting for a short time, or chronic, persisting over a longer period.


The location of hernia pain depends on the type of hernia. For example, inguinal and femoral hernias cause pain in the groin area, while umbilical hernias cause pain near the belly button.

When to Worry about Hernia Pain

If you have persistent or worsening pain, sudden pain or certain symptoms of complications, or any other concerning symptoms of a hernia, you should see a doctor right away. It is essential to recognize when hernia pain may be a cause for concern. Certain situations indicate your hernia may be more serious and should cause you to be concerned and seek medical attention.

Persistent or Worsening Pain

If your hernia pain does not improve with rest or becomes more severe over time, it may indicate a worsening condition that requires medical attention.

Signs of Complications

Certain symptoms may suggest complications related to your hernia, such as:

  1. Strangulation: A strangulated hernia occurs when the blood supply to the herniated tissue is cut off, which can lead to tissue death. Symptoms of a strangulated hernia include sudden, severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and a rapid heart rate.
  2. Obstruction: A hernia can cause an obstruction in the intestines if it traps part of the intestine, leading to symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and constipation.
  3. Incarceration: An incarcerated hernia is when the herniated tissue becomes trapped and cannot be pushed back into place. This can cause pain and discomfort, and if left untreated, it may lead to strangulation.

When should you seek medical attention?

If you experience persistent or worsening pain, signs of complications, or any other concerning symptoms, it is essential to seek prompt medical attention.

What is a hernia?

A hernia is a medical condition that occurs when an internal organ or tissue protrudes through a weak spot or defect in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue. This can cause a visible bulge and discomfort in the affected area. There are several types of hernias, each occurring in different parts of the body:

Inguinal Hernia

The most common type of abdominal hernia, an inguinal hernia, occurs when part of the intestine or fatty tissue protrudes through an opening in the abdominal muscles or the inguinal canal, which is located in the groin area. Inguinal hernias are more common in men than women.

Femoral Hernia

A femoral hernia occurs when a part of the intestine or fatty tissue pushes through the femoral canal, which is located near the groin and upper thigh. Femoral hernias are more common in women than in men.

Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia occurs when part of the intestine or fatty tissue protrudes through the abdominal wall near the belly button. This type of hernia is more common in infants and young children, but it can also affect adults.

Incisional Hernia

An incisional hernia develops when a part of the intestine or other tissue pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall at the site of a previous surgical incision.

Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia occurs when the upper part of the stomach pushes through the diaphragm, the muscle separating the chest and abdomen. This type of hernia is more common in older adults and can cause gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

What are the signs and symptoms of a hernia?

Hernias can present with various symptoms depending on their type and severity. Some common symptoms include:


A visible or palpable lump in the affected area is a common sign of a hernia. The hernia bulge may be more noticeable when standing, coughing, or bearing down.


Hernias can cause pain or tenderness in the affected area, especially when lifting, bending, or coughing. The pain may be mild to severe and can worsen over time.

Limited Mobility

Some hernias can cause difficulty moving or performing daily activities due to pain and discomfort.

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How are hernias diagnosed?

A healthcare professional can diagnose a hernia through several methods, including a physical exam and imaging tests.

Physical Examination

Your doctor will perform a physical examination to look for a visible or palpable bulge in the affected area, especially when you cough or bear down. They may also ask about your symptoms and medical history.

Imaging Tests

In some cases, your doctor may order imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of the hernia. These tests may include:

  1. Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of the internal structures, allowing your doctor to visualize the hernia and assess its size and location.
  2. CT scan: A computed tomography (CT) scan combines multiple X-ray images to create detailed, cross-sectional pictures of the body. This can help your doctor determine the extent of the hernia and detect any complications.
  3. MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate detailed images of the body’s internal structures. This can provide your doctor with additional information about the hernia and surrounding tissues.

What are the treatment options for hernias?

Treatment for a hernia depends on the type, severity, and presence of complications. Your doctor may recommend watching and waiting or hernia surgery. For small, uncomplicated hernias that do not cause significant pain or discomfort, your doctor may recommend watchful waiting. This involves monitoring the hernia for any changes in size or symptoms and avoiding activities that may worsen the condition.

If your hernia is causing significant pain, increasing in size, or leading to complications, your doctor may recommend surgery. There are several surgical techniques for hernia repair, including open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and robotic surgery. During an open hernia repair, your surgeon makes an incision near the hernia, pushes the herniated tissue back into place, and repairs the defect in the abdominal wall with stitches or mesh.

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure in which your surgeon makes several small incisions in the abdomen and inserts a laparoscope (a thin tube with a light and camera) and specialized surgical instruments. The surgeon then repairs the hernia using mesh or sutures, often resulting in shorter recovery times and less post-operative pain compared to open surgery.

Robotic-assisted hernia repair is another minimally invasive option that uses a robotic system controlled by the surgeon. This method offers greater precision and control, which can lead to fewer complications and improved outcomes.

Dr. Iskandar is a renowned complex hernia surgeon and will recommend the treatment option that is best for your unique situation.

What are the risk factors for hernias?

Several factors can increase your risk of developing a hernia, including age, gender, weight, and lifestyle. Older adults have a higher risk of developing hernias due to weakened muscles and connective tissue. Men are more susceptible to inguinal hernias, while women are more prone to femoral hernias. Excess body weight can increase pressure on the abdominal wall, making it more susceptible to hernias. Certain lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk of developing a hernia. These include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding heavy lifting or using proper lifting techniques, and practicing good posture.

Why Choose The Iskandar Complex Hernia Center for Hernia Treatment?

At The Iskandar Complex Hernia Center, we are committed to providing the highest level of care for our patients with hernias. Our highly skilled surgeon is board-certified and has extensive experience in performing complex hernia surgeries and advanced abdominal procedures. We understand that each patient’s needs and circumstances are unique. Our team will work closely with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that best addresses your specific condition.

Dr. Iskandar is trained in the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques, including laparoscopic and robotic-assisted hernia repair, to ensure optimal results and faster recovery times. Following your hernia surgery, our team at The Iskandar Complex Hernia Center will provide comprehensive post-operative care to ensure a smooth recovery. You will have regular follow-up appointments with your surgeon to monitor your progress and address any concerns.

Recognizing when to worry about hernia pain and seeking prompt medical attention is crucial for preventing complications and ensuring the best possible outcome. At The Iskandar Complex Hernia Center, our experienced surgeon and compassionate staff are committed to providing the highest level of care for patients with complex hernias.

If you’re experiencing hernia pain or would like more information about hernia treatment options, contact The Iskandar Complex Hernia Center today. Our knowledgeable staff is available to answer your questions and help you schedule a consultation with our expert surgeon, Dr. Iskandar. Don’t let hernia pain control your life any longer; take the first step towards a dramatically improved quality of life by reaching out to us.

Posted on May 3, 2023

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Dr. Iskandar, MD, FACS is a board-certified general surgeon with fellowship training in minimally invasive surgery and bariatric surgery. He is an accredited Surgeons of Excellence in Hernia Surgery by the SRC. The Iskandar Complex Hernia Center is one of only two North Texas Hernia Centers deemed Centers of Excellence. As a globally respected complex hernia expert, he specializes in complex hernia repair and abdominal reconstruction. He is also an Associate Professor of Surgery at Texas A&M School of Medicine.