Don’t ignore your groin pain.

Are you dealing with nagging pain in the groin area? Not sure if you’ve just strained a muscle or if it’s a sign of a bigger health issue?

Each year, hernias affect millions in this country. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately five million Americans have a hernia, but only 750,000 Americans seek treatment each year. Most people don’t understand what a hernia is or what causes one, much less the treatment options available. That’s why Audubon County Memorial Hospital and Clinics is sharing some tips below, as well as common signs and symptoms of hernias.

Is my groin pain caused by a hernia?

There are three types of hernias, the most common being the inguinal hernia. This type of hernia is typically associated with a persistent pain in the groin area. An inguinal hernia occurs in the abdomen near the groin area and can affect men and women, though it is most often found in men.

It is important to seek medical attention if you’re experiencing pain in this area because groin pain can be caused by other issues, such as a pulled muscle, kidney stone, or even an ovarian cyst in women. Dr. Jeff Maire is the general surgeon at Audubon County Memorial Hospital and Clinics. As an expert in hernia repair, Dr. Maire works with patients to help determine the cause of their groin pain and the best course of treatment.

How do I know if I have a hernia or a pulled groin muscle?

Feelings of dull aching and pain in the groin area are common for both a muscle strain and a hernia. A key indicator that you may have a hernia, however, is if you have a small bulge, lump, or bump on one side of the groin. This is the result of an area of tissue or organ pushing through the groin or abdominal muscle. You can usually feel it when you place your hand over the affected area. It’s also possible that a lump could appear on both sides of the groin.

You’re more likely to notice a lump or bump when you’re standing, and it may seem to disappear when you lie down. It may grow bigger, and the pain may worsen as time goes by, especially when exercising and lifting weights. Normal activities, or even just coughing, bending over, or laughing, can cause strain to your groin area.

It’s important to understand that not all people with inguinal hernias experience pain (at least not at first), and a lump may still occur even without pain. Additional inguinal hernia symptoms include:

  • Weakness, pressure, or a feeling of heaviness in your abdomen
  • A tugging, burning and/or aching sensation
  • An occasional pain and swelling around the testicles for males, and/or a swollen or enlarged scrotum
  • Swelling, a bulge or pain, in the abdomen, pelvis or groin
  • Pain or discomfort, especially when bending over, coughing, or lifting

When should I talk to my doctor about my groin pain?

Don’t ignore a sore groin. Your first plan of action should be to consult your doctor. Even if your pain isn’t severe, inguinal hernias can cause serious complications if left untreated. Hernias do not heal on their own, so getting treatment sooner rather than later will help you get back to your normal, everyday lifestyle.

In many cases, your doctor will recommend surgery. Fortunately, hernia repair is a common surgical procedure with a relatively short recovery time, especially when choosing a surgeon who specializes in hernia repair.

Dr. Jeff Maire is a board-certified general surgeon at Audubon County Memorial Hospital and Clinics and specializes in hernia repair. To schedule a consult and learn more about how Dr. Maire can treat your hernia, call the Outpatient Specialty Clinic at 712-563-5304.