Hernias are a common medical problem that may occur spontaneously, such as while lifting objects or straining, or it may be part of a predisposition due to weakness of the abdominal wall. There are ways to reduce the likelihood of a hernia and manage the condition if it occurs.
Since there are activities that can make your odds of having one or more hernias more common, you should make an effort to reduce their likelihood. Minimize lifting heavy objects whenever possible. If you must lift heavy objects occasionally or because of your work, utilize devices to lighten the load on your body and practice good lifting techniques. The stress that comes with lifting heavy objects can contribute to a piece of intestine being pushed through the abdominal muscles. Heavy lifting also includes doing weight training. Using stool softeners regularly may be important if you have frequent constipation because they can reduce straining, which also contributes to added stress on the abdominal muscles.
Being diagnosed with a hernia does not always require surgical intervention immediately. In some cases, wearing a supportive device can be used to reduce pain and possibly keep the intestines from protruding through the abdominal wall until it is repaired. Unless there is evidence the protruding intestine is stuck in the abdominal wall or becomes infected, you may consider delaying surgery if the timing for surgery is not right. Supportive devices work similarly to a corset and help provide additional support to the abdomen, thereby keeping the herniated area from protruding through the abdominal wall. You may need to wear the device continuously, since simple behaviors, such as coughing or sneezing, may cause pain.
Fortunately, hernias are treatable conditions and it is typically ideal repair it promptly. The goal of surgery is to repair the weakened area in the abdominal wall to prevent the intestines from protruding through the area. The procedure may be done using laparoscopic technology or a conventional (open) surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is the preferred method because it is less invasive and typically results in a faster recovery.
Some factors may necessitate an open approach, such as having significant amounts of abdominal fat, which makes it difficult to use a laparoscope. Additionally, some laparoscopic hernia surgeries may turn into an open surgery if there are additional problems detected during the procedure, such as evidence of dying intestinal tissue or significant infection that cannot be treated laparoscopically.
Many cases of hernias are mild and can be repaired quickly without long-term problems. Having hernias addressed promptly can minimize damage to the intestines and subsequent infection. For more information, contact local professionals like Michael A. Goldfarb MD FACS.