What are the Different Types of Hernias?

woman lifting weight

In addition to daily pain and discomfort, hernia conditions can cause serious complications if left untreated. Unfortunately, hernias do not go away on their own. It’s important to know about some of the different types of hernias and the symptoms associated with each.

What are different types of hernias?

Inguinal - occurs when the intestines push through the lower abdominal wall, often in the inguinal canal in your groin. Most hernias fall under this category.

Hiatal – occurs when your stomach bulges up through your diaphragm due to weakened muscle tissue.

Incisional – can occur after abdominal surgery since your intestines can push through your incision scar or the surrounding tissue.

Umbilical – usually occurs in the very young when intestines bulge through the abdominal wall.

What are some common hernia symptoms?

The most common symptom is a bulge or lump where the hernia is located. However, symptoms can depend on the type:


  • Pain or discomfort, especially when bending over, coughing, or lifting
  • Weakness, pressure, or a heavy feeling in your abdomen
  • Burning or aching where the bulge is located or in the upper inner thigh
  • Radiating sharp pain into the groin or upper and inner thigh


  • Heartburn
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Belching
  • Feeling very full after meals
  • Vomiting blood or passing black stools


  • Pain with nausea and/or vomiting with a bulge
  • Discoloration of the skin over a bulge in an abdominal scar
  • Swelling
  • A lump or mass on the surgical scar
  • An internal segment that’s protruding from the surgical wound


  • A bulge in or near the belly button

When should you see a doctor for a hernia?

If you have symptoms that could indicate the presence of a hernia, you should see your doctor promptly. The only possible exception to this is an umbilical hernia in young children. And although it may not be a medical emergency, it has the potential to develop into one. Part of your intestine could become trapped in the abdominal wall, causing bowel obstruction and severe pain. If this section can’t receive enough blood, strangulation occurs which can be life-threatening.

What are some common risk factors for hernias?

Inguinal hernias are more common in men than in women and likely to occur if you’re a man who has a family history of hernias. One study found that men with a positive family history are 8 times more likely to develop an inguinal hernia.

The following causes and risk factors can also increase your chances of developing a hernia:

  • Congenital defect - in which the abdominal wall doesn’t close properly
  • Age – people over 50 are more likely to develop hernias
  • Damage from injury or surgery
  • Chronic coughing or sneezing
  • Pregnancy
  • Constipation
  • Obesity or sudden weight gain
  • Fluid in the abdomen

If you have symptoms that could indicate you have a hernia, contact us today for a consultation with Dr. Reiner who has pioneered a minimally invasive approach to hernia surgery that results in faster recovery as well as a better patient experience. Fill out the form on this page to request an appointment or call 212.879.6677 to learn more.

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