A hernia develops when a weakness in the abdominal wall, combined with an increased pressure in the abdominal cavity, causes an organ (commonly a section of the small intestine) or a piece of the fat from within the abdomen to abnormally protrude out of the abdominal cavity in which it is normally contained.
Areas of weakness in the abdominal wall commonly occur at the belly button (Umbilical Hernia), in the groin (Inguinal or Femoral hernia) or at sites of previous surgery (Incisional Hernia). Conditions that cause increased pressure in the abdominal cavity include straining to pass stool or urine, prolonged coughing, weight lifting during work or recreation, and pregnancy.
Herniae can appear unsightly, but more importantly they carry a risk that the protruding contents can become stuck (strangulated). This can cut off the blood flow to this tissue and result in the tissue dying. This is painful and, if the contents are an organ such as the bowel, can be life threatening, needing urgent surgery to try and restore blood flow, or remove and repair the dead section of the organ.
To avoid this emergency situation it is generally recommended that once a hernia has been diagnosed that it is repaired as a planned procedure. There are different types of repairs for different types of herniae but the hernia will not heal itself without surgery.
After surgery, generally 2-6 weeks of healing is required before the patient can resume any heavy lifting. Depending on your occupation you may require this time away from work or with modified duties.
Umbilical Hernia Repair
Inguinal and Femoral Hernia Repair
Incisional Hernia Repair