Hernias 101: What to Know From Diagnosis to Treatment


What is a hernia?

Well, to sum it up, a hernia is a hole.

While there are several types of hernias, depending on where it is in the body, hernias occur when an organ pushes through an opening in the muscle or tissue that holds it in place.

Hernias are very common; some estimates say 200,000 people a year get diagnosed.

If you have a hernia and are wondering about proper care for it, a rule of thumb to follow is always listen to your body, according to Dr. Peter Gill, a surgeon at the comprehensive Hernia Center at Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester and Lahey Outpatient Center, Danvers.

The Hernia Center is a multidisciplinary specialty center that offers the full range of hernia care services, including surgical care, wound care, physical therapy, diagnostic imaging, pain management and nutrition services.

Dr. Gill said feeling a hernia, from pain or irritation, is often how someone first notices it. In fact, there may be a weak spot or hole long before you can feel it. Sometimes patients learn of hernias because they can see a bulge.

If you have a hernia and are worried about activities such as lifting weights, be mindful of your body. There’s no activity that is off-limits unless you’re experiencing pain.

“If it bothers you, stop doing the activity,” Dr. Gill said. “If you’re feeling pain, then don’t do that activity.  It’s a trial and error.”

The problem with hernias, and the reason it’s good to get them fixed, is because they grow. If the hernia grows leading to a condition called a strangulated hernia, meaning it is cutting off blood supply, this is a life-threatening medical condition. So it’s worth letting a doctor evaluate one early on because it will not get better on its own.

Surgery is the method to fix hernias. Hernia repair surgery is usually done in the spring.

“I usually do the complex repairs in spring or summer,” he said.

For more information on hernias, reach out to the Hernia Center at Addison Gilbert Hospital or Lahey Outpatient Center, Danvers.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

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