Have a Hernia? Don't Be Slow at Getting It Checked Out

Guest post by Jackie Edwards PT

Around 5 million Americans are affected by hernias each year, but many wait too long to get it checked out. In fact, while many runners will likely experience injuries or conditions like a sports hernia, if the symptoms aren't bad enough, many will simply keen on running. By doing so, they could actually be making the problem considerably worse. It's important for runners to understand more about hernias and seek the right advice and treatment. Otherwise, you could be putting your health at risk further down the track.

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Dealing with issues as soon as they arise will help you keep running for years to come!

Risks of a hernia

A hernia itself doesn’t generally pose a serious health risk unless it has increased in size and cut off the blood supply inside of the sac. This could become life-threatening so requires immediate medical care and surgery. If this is not carried out it could cause tissue and even nearby organs to fail. A hernia left untreated can also put extra pressure on the surrounding tissues. This can cause increased pain and swelling.

Medical treatment

Medical treatment depends on the size of your hernia and the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor may choose to simply monitor the hernia for any potential complications that arise. If your hernia is increasing in size or causing you pain, your doctor may decide that operating to repair it is the best solution. This is generally done by using a surgical mesh to seal up the hole. But not every hernia requires surgical treatment. Some exercises will strengthen the muscles around the area of a hernia, which can help to reduce some symptoms. However, these exercises need to be done properly to avoid causing further complications, so discuss an exercise plan with your doctor or physiotherapist.

Getting back to running

Many people continue running despite having a hernia. In many cases, this is completely safe, but make sure you speak to your doctor first. However, if you've had hernia surgery, running may not be recommended for some time afterwards. You should aim to wait at least four to six weeks before beginning a serious running program and if you experience any discomfort or pain, stop immediately.

It’s important to know the signs of a hernia and get it checked out as soon as possible. After all, it won't simply go away on its own. By taking early action or even just by making a few lifestyle changes, you can help minimize the effects of a hernia, avoid potentially life-threatening complications and help get you back on track.


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What is a hernia?

While there are several different types of hernia, in general, it is a bulge of tissue that protrudes through an area in the abdomen that has become weakened. Some hernias are completely harmless and heal on their own without requiring any intervention. Others, however, may be dangerous if left untreated and a person continues to exercise. You’re more likely to feel your hernia by touching when you’re either standing up or bending down. You may even feel it when you cough. You may also feel pain or discomfort in the affected area, which is generally the lower abdomen.

You may experience a pressure or heavy feeling in the abdomen.  But a hernia doesn’t always have obvious symptoms. In fact, you may not discover you have one until it shows up during a routine medical exam. Confusingly, a sports hernia is not actually a hernia. It is caused by sports that involve quick twisting or bending. Over time these movements can cause a small tear in the abdominal muscles around the groin area. While it can be extremely painful, it doesn’t involve the protrusion of internal tissue.