Health Issues: Hernias

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By Dr. Michael Miles

Special to the Crier

A biological hernia by definition is a protrusion of organs or other tissues through the wall of the body cavity that normally houses that tissue. The most common human hernias involve tissue being forced out of weakened abdominal walls. Intestines are forced out due to extreme pressure such as that placed on the abdomen during heavy lifting or prolonged coughing or even during straining from constipation.

Three common hernias are inguinal (in and around the lower abdomen), hiatal (stomach pushing up through the diaphragm) and spinal (herniated disc).

Hernias may or may not cause symptoms. Sometimes pain can be felt if nerves are triggered by the pressure of tissue pressing on them. Sometimes a protruding soft lump can be seen or felt on the abdomen or even in the scrotum. Sometimes intestinal sounds can be heard at the sight of a protrusion. If the intestines get strangled, redness at the area may occur and nausea, vomiting and fever may develop. This would be a medical emergency.

In the case of hiatal hernias, acid from the protruding stomach can splash up the esophagus and cause heart burn or even burn the larynx (voice box) which would manifest as a harsh, gravelly voice.

Herniated discs often press against the nerves as they leave the spinal cord and trigger them to fire. This will cause pain that shoots down the nerve, as experienced with sciatica.

The key to rectifying a hernia is to replace it to its original position and then secure it there so it doesn’t continually bulge back out of place.

In the case of abdominal hernias, repositioning them may be as easy as shoving the protruding tissues back through the hole from where they came. The problem often is that the hole does not mend very easily and the tissue will continually be forced out with less and less strain.

Surgeons are very successful at strengthening these openings with a few stitches. Most surgeons highly suggest that meshes are placed behind the openings to spread out the surface area of pressure.

Home remedies can be successful, though it usually takes extreme persistence. One can use gravity to replace the protruding tissues. Then the muscles at the opening can be strengthened to remain closed. The “upside-down bicycle” exercise can be used to reposition and strengthen. Bioflavonoids (berries) and Vitamin C make good tissue strengtheners. It will take months of due diligence to be successful with this approach during which time one must avoid heavy lifting , etc.

Hiatal hernias can be addressed by forcing the hands up and under the ribs to leverage the stomach downward, thus repositioning it below the hole in the diaphragm that then keeps the acid in the stomach where it belongs. Another way to accomplish this is to swallow a good amount of water, thus transforming the stomach into a heavy ball. Then, repeatedly jump off a one foot step. This also will force the stomach back down into its designated position.

Herniated discs (bulging discs) can be replaced by using traction to suck them back into the spine. Stretching can accomplish this, as well as hanging from a bar. One can monitor the progress of a bulging disc by standing in an upright position and leaning straight over from one side to the other. A bulging disc will push against the nerves leaving the spinal cord and cause shooting pain down that side of the body.

Hernias are fairly straight forward and usually quite easy to remedy. However, if they are left untreated they can twist and burst and burn and cause some real damage. As is true in most medical situations, early detection and treatment is definitely better than ignoring the symptoms your body provides.

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