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Can lifting heavy objects cause a hernia
Monday 8 May 2017

When lifting heavy objects, it’s important that you take care and lift correctly. Not only can poor lifting of a heavy load lead to back problems but it can also cause a hernia.

If you exert sudden strain or force when moving something heavy, then you may end up with a hernia. This could happen when moving a piece of furniture, carrying heavy gardening waste or equipment, or weight lifting.

What is a hernia?

A hernia occurs when an internal body part (such as the intestine), pushes through a weakness in the overlying muscle wall and results in a soft lump.

There are many types of hernia which are classified based on their location. The tissues of your abdomen are more vulnerable to a hernia. The most common type of hernia is called an inguinal hernia. It happens when a when a bulge appears in your groin or your scrotum (if you're a man) as fatty tissue or part of your bowel pushes through a weakness in your inguinal canal.

What are the symptoms of a hernia?

In many cases, a hernia causes no symptoms apart from you may notice a swelling or lump in your stomach or groin. The lump may come and go. As you lie down it may disappear and as you cough or sneeze it may grow bigger.

You may experience sudden pain when straining or lifting which often eases after the initial period of pain.

As the size of a hernia increases the pressure on the internal wall increases and it can become quite painful.

When should I seek medical attention?

If you think you have a hernia, you should seek medical advice to determine if you do, its severity and whether or not it needs to be treated. A hernia will not heal or simply go away on its own.

Most hernias are diagnosed by a physical examination, your clinical history and sometimes further diagnostic tests such as MRI and ultrasound are required.

If you have a hernia and you have pain, are nauseous and vomiting then you should seek immediate medical attention at your nearest A&E. You may have a strangulated or obstructed hernia.

What causes a hernia?

Some hernias are present at birth, known as congenital hernia.  An acquired hernia develops when the muscles or connective tissue in your abdomen lining are weakened or damaged later in life.

In addition to your body being at risk if you suddenly decide to perform heavy lifting, there are other risk factors. These include:

Being overweight - carrying a lot of extra weight around your stomach will stretch and weaken your abdominal lining and increase your risk of having a hernia. Anything that causes an increase in pressure in your abdomen such as diarrhoea, constipation, persistent coughing and sneezing. Poor nutrition An accumulation of foods in your abdominal canal Smoking – can weaken your muscles Chronic lung disease

Are there preventative measures for hernias?

Many hernias cannot be prevented but an adult may be able to prevent some hernias or prevent a hernia from recurring. Preventative actions include: avoid becoming overweight or having rapid weight loss, stopping smoking, eating a healthy balanced diet to prevent constipation, and lifting with your legs.

Interestingly, bodybuilders are less susceptible to hernias as they follow a healthy bodybuilding lifestyle that can actually help prevent a hernia. They have a nutritional diet that promotes regular bowel movements and an on-going exercise routine that creates a stronger abdominal wall lining compared to sedentary individuals.

What treatment is recommended for a hernia?

Surgical treatment is the only cure for a hernia. However, there are a number of factors to consider when deciding if you need hernia repair surgery including: the type of hernia, its location and severity, the likelihood of it becoming strangulated or causing a bowel obstruction, its symptoms and how they are affecting your health and lifestyle.

Hernia surgery is the world’s most common surgical procedure. It can be performed under general anaesthetic by keyhole or open surgery with the aim of pushing the lump back to where it originated from and repairing any weakened muscles. Your general surgeon will be able to advise you on the most suitable hernia treatment for you.

Hernia repair surgery available at Winfield Hospital

Here at Winfield Hospital we offer local and convenient appointments with experienced general surgeons to diagnose and surgically repair a hernia.

You can book your appointment by calling 01452 331111 or via our contact page.

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