Hernias are defects in the abdominal wall muscles or occasionally the muscles of the flank or back. Some hernias occur from minor defects or weaknesses in the muscle that are left from birth and some occur after surgery. Heavy lifting, straining or coughing can put stress in these weak areas of defects and cause them to enlarge and bulge.
Symptoms occur when the stretching of the tissue or when intestine or other structures get caught in them. Symptoms can include abdominal wall pain, burning or tingling. If intestine gets trapped, symptoms can include crampy abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. You may also feel a mass in the weakness area.
Once a hernia is present, it needs to be repaired. Depending on the location, the type of surgery recommended will change. In general, mesh will be used to strengthen the muscles and cover the defect. Hernias are repaired open or laparoscopic, depending on the location and prior surgical history. Almost all hernias are repaired on an outpatient basis or, at most, an overnight stay basis.
Return to work and full activity depends on the type of repair and the location. For most repairs, once you are pain-free, you have no lifting restrictions.