Hernia Signs and Symptoms

Do you think you or a loved one may be experiencing a hernia? Read about common signs and symptoms to help better understand what a hernia looks and feels like.

Common Hernia Symptoms

Hernias are a common medical condition that occur when an internal organ or tissue pushes through a weak spot in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue.¹ Most hernias are caused by a combination of pressure and an opening or weakness of muscle or connective tissue. While muscle weakness may be present at birth, an increase in abdominal pressure or certain risk factors may make you more prone to developing hernias later in life.² They are most noticeable when coughing, lifting, or rising from a sitting to a standing position and typically do not cause a sharp pain.

Do you have:

  • An unknown bulge in your abdomen or groin area?
  • Discomfort or pain in your abdomen or groin, or at an incision site, when you bend or lift something?
  • Acid reflux, heartburn, difficulty swallowing, or regurgitation?
  • Weakness?
  • A feeling of being full?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consult a physician about a possible hernia. For the list, download our Signs & Symptoms Checklist below.


See Hernia Signs & Symptoms Checklist

Hernia Location Diagram

Did You Know There Are Different Hernia Types?

There are multiple types of hernias that can be present in different parts of the body. Learn about the types of hernias to see which may apply to you.

Read More on the Specific Hernia Types

Are Hernias Common?

Yes. Hernias are a very common medical condition that occur when an organ or fatty tissue bulges through a weak spot in the muscle wall or containing it.¹ Each year roughly 5 million Americans experience a hernia, and over one million hernia repair surgeries are performed.¹ ³

Although hernias are very common, they are more prevalent in men than women. Approximately 1 in 4 men (25%) and 1 in 50 women (2%) will require surgery for hernia repair during their lifetime.⁴


Read A Comprehensive Guide to Hernias

Hernias in Men

Due to the male anatomy, there are holes or gaps in the groin muscles to ensure blood is able to move to the reproductive organs. Additionally, as a man gets older, his abdominal wall weakens in that same area, increasing the risk for developing a hernia.⁴


Read Hernias in Men Blog

Hernias in Women

Hernias in women tend to be smaller and deeper than male hernias and typically do not have a telltale bulge. Rather, female hernias can cause chronic, deep pelvic pain and occasional sharp, stabbing pain that comes on quickly and lingers.⁵


Read Hernias in Women Blog

Hernia Recurrence

Hernias tend to be more common in adults, but can also affect children and babies. While openings in the abdominal wall are normal in babies (and typically close before or right after birth), it is possible for intestines or other organs to push through and create a hernia.⁶


Read Hernias in Babies and Children Blog

Female Patient Doctor Consultation

Is This Hernia Pain or Something Else?7,8

There are several conditions that present with similar pain to a hernia. These include, but are not limited to: Muscular Strain, Gastrointestinal Disorders, Appendicitis, Kidney Stones, Ovarian Issues, Lipoma, Hydrocele, Varicocele, and Enlarged Lymph Nodes (Groin).
For more information on what can be mistaken for a hernia, read our blog:

Conditions That Can Be Mistaken for a Hernia


Will a Hernia Heal on Its Own?

No. An untreated hernia will not get better on its own, although it may not get worse for months or even years. And, while hernias are not usually life threatening, you should not ignore or make light of its signs.⁹ 

Whether your hernia is reducible (one that is easily pushed back in) or non-reducible, it’s important to be evaluated by a physician to determine what course of action should be taken. Depending on your situation, your doctor may opt for a “watch and wait” approach or recommend surgery. 


Learn More About Diagnosing a Hernia

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