If you’re experiencing pain or a lump in your abdomen or groin, you may be wondering if you have a hernia.

Here’s everything you need to know about different types of hernias, their causes and your treatment options.

Connect with a hernia specialist

Visit websiteCall 866.592.2197

Hernias happen when organs push through weak muscle walls.

Hernias happen when weakness or openings in muscle allow organs or other part of your abdomen to protrude through.

As we age, your muscles weaken leaving you more susceptible to a hernia. There are a number of other causes and risk factors for hernias including:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Surgical Incisions
  • Heavy lifting
  • Coughing
  • Pregnancy

> Related: Is a Hernia Causing Your Heartburn?

Hernias can cause a lump in your abdomen or groin – but they don’t always.

Many hernias cause a visible bulge or lump that can come and go at certain times. But others don’t cause a lump at all.

“There are hernias that you can actually see under the skin, but there are also ones that you can’t see, and you don’t know that you have one,” says Ajay Ranade, MD, a general surgeon with Hartford HealthCare’s Digestive Health Institute.

“They’re often found when the person has imaging done for a different reason and the scan shows the hernia.”

Depending on what kind of hernia you have, you should be on the look out for other symptoms including:

  • Pain, burning or aching in the abdomen or groin
  • Weakness or pressure in your abdomen or groin
  • Constipation or bloody stool
  • Heartburn

Symptoms may be worse when you’re doing physical activity, including bending or lifting.

Want more health news? Text StartHere to 85209 to sign up for text alerts

Different types of hernias occur in different places.

You’ll notice a lump or pain in different parts of your abdomen or groin, depending on what type of hernia you have.

The most common type of hernia – inguinal – occurs in your groin, where the abdomen and thighs connect.

Hernias can also occur in your:

  • Abdominal wall (ventral hernia)
  • Chest cavity through an opening in the diaphragm (hiatal hernia)
  • Upper thigh, below the groin (femoral hernia)
  • Surgical incision (incisional hernia)

The good news – treatment is highly effective.

If your hernia is causing pain or starting to affect other organs, it’s probably time to get it surgically repaired, says Dr. Ranade. There are a number of different surgical treatment options, and a doctor can help decide which one is right for you.

But hernia treatment doesn’t end with surgical repair – a doctor can help you improve the overall health of your abdominal wall to prevent future hernias.

“We talking to patients about strengthening their core, losing weight, quitting smoking, improving their overall health,” says Dr. Ranade. “This helps reduce the rate of recurrence and an overall improved focus on abdominal wall and patient health leads to better outcomes in all aspects of medicine.”