Chronic groin pain can sometimes be from a “hidden” inguinal or femoral hernia

Figuring out how to diagnose the cause of long term (chronic) groin and pelvic pain can be challenging.

Sometimes chronic groin pain in women and men are from a really small, “hidden” inguinal hernias.   Hilary Gulley

Understanding how to find a proper exam and a proper work up can expedite finding the proper diagnosis.

Journalist Hillary Gulley recently described how we helped diagnose and then treat her hidden hernia, now published in The Washington Post:  read it here.

Watch Dr. Jacob’s Lecture On Groin Pain

What Is a Hidden Hernia?

hernia generally occurs when an organ or fatty tissue squeezes through a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue called fascia. They’re often characterized by the appearance of a bulge or lump.

A “hidden” or occult hernia is a type of hernia that does not manifest the classic bulge in the abdomen or groin areas. Hidden hernias can develop in the inguinal (groin) or femoral (upper thigh) regions and are more difficult to diagnose due to their internal location and smaller size.

At NYC Hernia in New York City, Dr. Brian Jacob, MD, specializes in diagnosing and treating these challenging cases. With his wealth of knowledge and experience, Dr. Jacob is a chronic pain and hernia surgeon you can trust.

Symptoms of Hidden Hernias

The primary symptom of a hidden hernia is chronic, unexplained groin pain that may be exacerbated by physical activities such as lifting, bending, or prolonged standing. Other symptoms of an occult hernia might include:

  • A sensation of fullness or heaviness in the groin area.
  • Pain that radiates to the surrounding areas, including the hip or the lower abdomen.
  • Intermittent pain that comes and goes but gradually worsens over time.

FAQ About Hidden Hernias

Are Hidden Hernias More Common in Women?

Hidden hernias can occur in both men and women. However, the type of hidden hernia might vary by gender due to anatomical differences. For example, femoral hernias, which can sometimes be hidden, are more common in women due to the wider bone structure of the female pelvis. Inguinal hernias, which can also be hidden, are more common in men but can still occur in women.

The challenge with occult hernias is that they might not present the obvious symptoms, such as a visible bulge, which can make diagnosis more difficult. Women may sometimes experience symptoms that are less specific and might be mistakenly attributed to gynecological or other non-hernia conditions. This can lead to underdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis more often in women compared to men.

Are Hidden Hernias Dangerous?

While hidden hernias are not immediately life-threatening, they can lead to more serious complications if left untreated. Seek medical advice if you suspect you may have a hernia. 

These complications can include: 

  • Incarceration: This occurs when the hernia gets trapped outside the abdominal wall and cannot easily be pushed back into the abdomen. Incarceration can be painful and leads to increased discomfort and swelling.
  • Strangulation: A more severe complication of incarceration is strangulation, where the blood supply to the part of the intestine or other tissue trapped in the hernia is cut off. This can lead to tissue death and is a medical emergency requiring immediate surgical intervention.
  • Obstruction: Hidden hernias can obstruct the bowel, leading to severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and the inability to pass gas or stools. This can happen if the hernia involves a segment of the intestine.
  • Increased Size and Worsening Symptoms: Without treatment, hernias can progressively worsen, becoming larger and more symptomatic over time. This will make it more difficult to treat later on and might require more invasive surgery than if it had been addressed earlier.

How Are Hidden Hernias Diagnosed?

Due to their subtle presentation, hidden hernias require sophisticated diagnostic techniques. Dr. Brian Jacob and his team at NYC Hernia utilize advanced imaging technologies such as ultrasound, CT scans, and MRIs to accurately detect these hernias. These tools allow for a detailed view of the abdominal and groin areas, helping to pinpoint the exact location and size of the hernia.

What Treatment Options Are Available for Hidden Hernias?

Treatment for a hidden hernia typically involves surgical intervention, as these hernias do not heal on their own and may lead to complications if left untreated. Dr. Brian Jacob is proficient in performing minimally invasive hernia repair surgeries, which involve smaller incisions, less pain, and quicker recovery times compared to traditional surgery. 

Each treatment plan is customized based on the patient's specific condition and overall health, aiming for the best possible outcome with minimal impact on the individual's lifestyle.

How Do You Prevent a Hidden Hernia?

While some hernias are due to genetic factors or are congenital, you can make certain lifestyle adjustments to help reduce the risk of developing a hernia or making an existing one worse. 

These adjustments include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce pressure on the abdominal muscles.
  • Practicing proper lifting techniques.
  • Engaging in exercises that strengthen the core muscles.

Why Choose Dr. Brian Jacob for Hidden Hernia Treatment?

Dr. Brian Jacob is a leading hernia and chronic pain surgeon in New York City, with an international reputation for excellence in hernia surgery. He is the founder and CEO of the International Hernia Collaboration, a network dedicated to the surgical education of over 13,000 hernia surgeons globally. 

Dr. Jacob’s expertise is recognized by continuous accolades. He’s been named one of the best hernia surgeons by The New York Times Magazine for 12 consecutive years and consistently listed as a Top Doctor by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. in New York Magazine.

You can read about journalist Hillary Gulley’s experience, in which she described how Dr. Jacob and his team helped diagnose and treat her hidden hernia in The Washington Post. With his years of proven experience successfully treating thousands of patients, you’re in good hands with Dr. Jacob.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

If you are experiencing unexplained groin pain or suspect you may have a hidden hernia, do not wait for the condition to worsen. Dr. Brian Jacob and the team at NYC Hernia are here to help.

Contact us today at 212-879-6677 to schedule a comprehensive evaluation and discuss your treatment options. We’ll help you take the first step towards pain relief and recovery.

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