When to Worry about Hernia Pain: All the Hype on Inguinal Hernias


Posted By Author on April 17, 2024

A mild sneeze or a rare cough can usually be attributed to a slight chill in the air, but what happens when chronic sneezing and coughing lead to something more serious? 

Inguinal hernias occur when tissue bulges through a weakened opening in your abdomen. Although this type of hernia isn’t dangerous, it can lead to life-threatening complications if it goes untreated. 

Read on to discover what the hype is concerning inguinal hernias, and how our doctors at Charleston GI can help in hernia prevention and treatment. 

What is an Inguinal Hernia?


A hernia occurs when tissue from one area of the body bulges through a weakened area in the muscle wall to another. Inguinal hernias, also called groin hernias, are the most common type of hernia. They occur when fat or part of the intestines bulge through a weak spot in the inguinal canal. 

There are two inguinal canals, or passages on either side of the groin, through which inguinal hernias can occur. There are two types of inguinal hernias: direct and indirect. 

  • Direct inguinal hernia: A direct inguinal hernia occurs in adults over time, penetrating directly through the canal wall.
  • Indirect inguinal hernia: An indirect inguinal hernia is typically the cause of a birth defect in which the canal’s opening doesn’t close all the way during development. The hernia then enters the canal through that opening. 

While not initially dangerous, inguinal hernias can be life-threatening if left untreated or unacknowledged over time. 

Inguinal Hernia Symptoms 

Even though up to 25 percent of men suffering from an inguinal hernia at some point in their life, it can still be challenging to spot. Inguinal hernias can range from no symptoms to sporadic onset. If you have an inguinal hernia, you might notice: 

  • A bulge in your groin 
  • Feelings of pressure or heaviness in your groin 
  • Pain when lifting, crouching, or bending over 
  • Burning or pinching sensation 
  • Pain and swelling around the testicles 

When to Worry About Hernia Pain

While inguinal hernias can fix themselves with some lifestyle adjustments and extra rest, not all hernias can be fixed without a visit to a hernia specialist near you. 

If an inguinal hernia does not improve on its own, it may become stuck or strangulated. A strangulated hernia is when the abdominal wall cuts off the blood flow to the trapped tissue. A strangulated hernia can be dangerous, so consult one of our GI doctors in Charleston, SC if you notice the following symptoms: 

  • A hernia bulge that has increased in size 
  • Fever
  • Redness in the area
  • Onset of sudden or severe pain
  • Nausea or vomiting

If symptoms continue to worsen or pain increases, contact a hernia doctor near you as soon as possible. 

Can a Hernia Heal Itself? Prevention and Treatment 

To put it simply: no!

A hernia can’t heal itself but, depending on the size of the hernia, surgery can be delayed months or even years as long as symptoms don’t arise or become worse. If you suspect you may have a groin hernia, it’s important to schedule an appointment with one of our Charleston GI doctors. They will conduct a physical exam and may order further imaging tests if the hernia is not readily apparent. 

If the hernia is small and without symptoms, our gastroenterology specialists may recommend keeping an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t grow or become painful.

Eventually, however, most inguinal hernias will need to be removed by surgery. 

Inguinal Hernia Prevention 

While there is no way to prevent a congenital inguinal hernia, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing a direct inguinal hernia. By doing the following tasks, you can reduce strain on your abdominal muscles and tissues, working to make you less susceptible of developing this condition: 

  • Maintain healthy weight through diet and exercise
  • Focus on high-fiber foods
  • Practice proper lifting technique when lifting heavy objects or weights 
  • Focus on building strength in your core and abdominal muscles 
  • Seek treatment from our Charleston gastroenterology clinic for underlying GI issues or concerns

Don’t Internalize Inguinal Hernia Symptoms! Contact Charleston GI Today


Inguinal hernias are unsuspecting at first but can develop into something more serious.

If you suspect you might be suffering from a hernia in the groin, contact one of our GI doctors near you today! Foregoing a trip to the GI clinic could mean increased pain and even greater risk to your health. 

When it comes to your health, it’s important to trust your gut and your body! We have four convenient Charleston area locations to choose from, in West Ashley, Mount Pleasant, Summerville, and Carnes Crossroads. Our Charleston GI doctors are ready 5 days a week to offer you relief.

There’s no referral needed, so schedule your appointment today!

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