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What is a hernia and when should you treat it?

A hernia occurs when an organ or other tissue breaks through a weakened area of the muscle wall that would typically keep it contained — usually in the abdomen or groin area.

The only way to repair a hernia is through surgery. Small hernias without symptoms may never need to be repaired. However, hernias will often get bigger over time. If your hernia impacts your quality of life, there is little reason to delay. Here are three signs it’s time to see a surgeon:

1. It causes pain.

Whether it is a burning or aching feeling, pain when standing, or a heavy feeling, hernia pain can keep you from enjoying even the simplest of things. At this point, it is likely time for a surgical repair.

2. You have a hard time being active.

Hernias can interfere with your daily life. If the hernia is getting larger or if you find it difficult to stand, bend over or lift heavy objects because of your hernia, don’t wait any longer.

3. The hernia area is discolored.

If the hernia area changes from a normal skin tone to a dark red or purple color, the area around hernia may be losing blood flow. This means you need to see a doctor immediately.

“Today, most hernias are treated using minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures with smaller incisions that promote faster recovery and help alleviate pain,” said Davidson Oxley, M.D., a general surgeon with Maury Regional Medical Group Surgery in Columbia, Tennessee. “In all cases, even when a hernia is not producing symptoms, it is important to let your doctor know about your condition so that they can monitor it for changes.”

Dr. D. Davidson Oxley

D. Davidson Oxley, M.D.
is a board-certified general surgeon associated with Maury Regional Medical Group Surgery in Columbia, Tennessee. Dr. Oxley's primary areas of surgical practice include advanced laparoscopic procedures, gastrointestinal surgery, endocrine surgery, and laparoscopic gallbladder and hernia procedures