How do I relieve hernia pain?

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2023

When you experience pain, it’s only natural to want to know how to relieve it. So, what can you do to relieve hernia pain?

Pain related to a hernia of any kind can often be alleviated temporarily with some basic at-home care. Getting rid of your discomfort in the long-term, though, requires more than a quick fix. Hernia pain should not be ignored, as it can be a sign of an incarcerated or strangulated hernia.

Keep reading as our team of hernia specialists answers a few common questions about what can be done for hernia pain. Regardless of your level of pain, the only way to properly diagnose a hernia is to be evaluated by a hernia specialist.

Q: What can I do to ease hernia pain?

A: If you develop a hernia, your specific symptoms will vary depending on the type of hernia you have and its severity. But it’s common to experience discomfort with any kind of hernia.

When you have a hernia, you may feel aching or burning in the area of the hernia, discomfort when bending over or coughing, or a sensation of heaviness and pressure that can be painful. Any bulge under the skin that’s causing discomfort should be checked out by a medical provider, but there are some things you can do to find relief in the meantime.

The first step to relieving hernia pain is avoiding the action that’s causing you discomfort. Don’t lift heavy objects or do other strenuous activities, since doing so can worsen the hernia and your pain.

You can also use some first-aid basics to help alleviate pain. Much like icing the affected area and using an over-the-counter pain reliever can help with pain caused by a headache or a sprained ankle, those steps to relieve inflammation and swelling may also help with hernia pain.

Q: When should I see a doctor?

A: The short answer is that any bulge under the skin should be evaluated by a medical provider as a possible hernia.

In some cases, hernias don’t cause noticeable symptoms beyond the bulge. In others, a hernia may cause discomfort that worsens with activity, a feeling of pressure in the affected area, or even a burn-like sensation. Certain types of hernia may also cause other symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting.

The bottom line? If you have a noticeable bulge in any area of the body, particularly if accompanied by hernia pain or other symptoms, check in with a medical provider. If a hernia is suspected, you may be referred for diagnosis and treatment by a hernia specialist.

Q: When is hernia pain an emergency?

A: In most cases, hernias aren’t life-threatening, but serious complications are possible. If you suspect you have a hernia, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider or one of the expert surgeons at the Hernia Center at Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC).

While that’s the general advice for most hernias, certain symptoms are a sign that you need immediate medical care. Seek emergency medical attention if you have sudden hernia pain that worsens quickly and significantly, prolonged nausea and vomiting, chills or a fever, constipation or the inability to pass gas, blood in your stool, or red/purple discoloration of the hernia bulge.

The symptoms noted above can all be signs that blood supply to the hernia has been cut off, causing what’s known as a strangulated hernia. When this happens, it’s an emergency, because tissue in the affected area can die off due to a lack of blood flow.

Even if you aren’t certain you have a hernia, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Q: How can hernia pain be relieved long-term?

A: While the tips we’ve identified above can help provide pain relief in the short-term, they’re not a permanent solution. Hernias cannot heal themselves, so surgery is necessary to provide long-term relief.

Most hernias can be repaired through a minimally invasive procedure. At NGMC, these robotic procedures offer the same optimal results as open hernia repair but provide patients with additional benefits, including a faster recovery and lower risk of complications.

It’s important not to delay seeking care for a hernia. While immediate surgery is not usually needed, serious complications like a bowel obstruction or a strangulated hernia can occur if a hernia is left untreated.

Patients undergoing hernia repair surgery, particularly minimally invasive hernia repair, typically recover relatively quickly after surgery. While you may feel a little rundown for a few days after surgery, most people feel better within a few days to a week. Your hernia surgeon will let you know when you can safely resume your normal activities, including going back to work. And the best news is: Your hernia pain will be gone.

Next steps

As Georgia’s first accredited Hernia Surgery Center of Excellence, the Hernia Center of NGMC offers access to hernia specialists and the most advanced robotic and minimally invasive surgical techniques for hernia repair. Call 770-219-4040 to learn more or schedule an appointment.