The Cleveland Clinic
Hernia Center  
What is a Hernia?
Frequently Asked Questions
Types of Repair
Patient Benefits

What is a hernia?

A hernia occurs when the inside layers of the abdominal wall weaken then bulge or tear. The inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area to form a balloon-like sac. This, in turn, can cause a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to slip into the sac, causing pain and other potentially serious health problems.

Men and women of all ages can have hernias. Hernias usually occur either because of a natural weakness in the abdominal wall or from excessive strain on the abdominal wall, such as the strain from heavy lifting, substantial weight gain, persistent coughing, or difficulty with bowel movements or urination. Most hernias occur in the abdomen. There are several types of hernias, including:

Inguinal, in the groin
Umbilical, around the navel
Incisional, through the scar
Hiatal, a small opening in the diaphram that allows the upperpart of the stomach to move up into the chest

What are the symptoms of hernias?

A noticeable protrusion in the groin area, or in the abdomen
Feeling pain while lifting
A dull aching sensation
A vague feeling of fullness


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October 23, 2007