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Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to questions about hernias, symptoms, recovery and more.

How Hernias Develop

You may be wondering how hernias develop. The abdominal wall has natural areas of potential weakness that are present from birth. Other areas of weakness develop due to a variety of factors, such as surgery, injury, pregnancy, aging, or muscle strain. Most hernias that occur in adults result from strain on abdominal muscles that have been weakened by age or congenital factors.

 

Hernias can also occur near the site of previous trauma to the abdomen or an incision from a prior surgery. Muscles that heal after an incision can sometimes break down, and a hernia can form. Patients who develop these types of hernias may have multiple incisions in the same place.

 

When the hernia forms, a hole in the abdominal wall muscle develops, allowing the inner lining of the abdomen to push through the weakened area. A loop of intestine or fatty tissue may push against this lining, forming a sac. At this point, you may have no idea you're developing a hernia, although you may feel burning or tingling.

 
You may have heard that hernias are caused by heavy lifting, but that is just a myth. While heavy lifting and other strenuous activities can aggravate a hernia, they don't actually cause them. Most hernias are the result of a weakness in a muscle that exists long before a hernia even appears.

These activities and events may aggravate or lead to the discovery of a hernia:

  • Lifting
  • Twisting, pulling, or muscle strains
  • Weight gain
  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic cough