Hernia Remedies

Treat Symptoms or Cure The Problem?

If you cannot afford the cure which is hernia surgery you may look into other hernia remedies. As a policy we do not recommend any of these because they are not the medical standard of care but we understand that the information may be of some value to you.

Trusses, belts, briefs and wraps?

These are belts, appliances or garments that are designed to apply pressure on the hernia and keep it from popping out. They are relatively inexpensive and may provide some temporary symptomatic relief. They are most effective for inguinal hernias and least effective for all other types of hernias. If you are going to buy a hernia truss here is some advise: Make sure you purchase from a company with a liberal return policy. There are many styles shapes and sizes. The only way to know what will work best for you is to try on a few.

Inguinal hernia truss

This is a belt which goes around the hips and one of the thighs. It applies pressure directly to the internal spermatic ring which is where indirect inguinal hernias originate. In order to apply the truss the hernia must be reducible. That is, you must be able to push the hernia all of the way back into the abdomen before applying pressure to hernia. There is no value from the truss if you are not able to reduce the hernia. Once the hernia is reduced and the truss is applied the hernia will stay inside the abdomen until the truss is removed or dislodged. It is not secure enough to withstand heavy physical activity but it may work fine and keep you comfortable for long periods of standing or causal walking.

Umbilical hernia belt

Umbilical hernia belts generally work pretty poorly and can worsen a hernia. The problem is that a belt around the middle of the abdomen actually increases intra-abdominal pressure and this pressure forces the hernia out with more force than what is applied directly to the hernia by the belt.

Hernia Exercises

Hernias are not caused by weakness of abdominal muscles. Hernias are the result of weakness of tissue called "fascia". Exercise will strengthen muscle but not fascia. Unfortunately exercise also increases intra-abdominal pressure and this causes worsening of the hernia.

Hernia Medications

Medications are the mainstay of treatment for hiatal hernias. For all other hernias they provide no more value than treating the pain and discomfort associated with the hernia.  Treating a hernia with medications is like fixing a broken chain with a good paint job.

Non-Surgical hernia treatments

Laparoscopic hernia repair is minimally invasive but the technique suffers from a high recurrence rate. Yoga, radiation therapy, inversion boots, message therapy and denial have all been shown to be of no value. We never discount the value of prayer but it probable works through a surgeons hands.

Hiatal Hernias

Sliding Hiatal hernias are a special case of hernias which are primarily treated without surgery. Surgery for this type of hernia is only indicated if other treatments fail or if there is so much damage to the esophagus that a risk of cancer develops.  Most sliding hiatal hernias are successfully treated with medication, diet, weight loss and abstinence from tobacco and alcohol.

Para-esophageal hiatal hernias are a rare form of hiatal hernias which require surgery. This is because they can cause strangulation of the stomach which is not a risk of the sliding type of hiatal hernia.

Hernia Surgery

Most hernias result from a weakness in the abdominal wall that you are born with. Over time and with stress the weakness enlarges and allows bowel to poke out.

A hernia is a protrusion of intestines through the strength layer of the abdominal wall. The strength layer of the abdominal wall is called fascia. Fascia is the tough outer lining of muscle that gives structural strength to muscles and the abdominal wall.  The abdominal wall is composed of ten layers of membranes, fascia, muscles, fat and skin. The outermost layers, the subcutaneous fat and the dermis have no strength or ability to contain the contents of the abdominal cavity.

When there is a defect of the deeper strength layers of the abdominal wall intestines or other abdominal organs protrude and create a budge under the skin. The danger is that the intestines will become trapped and strangulated in the narrow neck of the defect. This is a bowel strangulation which leads to bowel obstruction and bowel gangrene. Bowel gangrene is a surgical emergency which requires emergency repair of the hernia and removal of the gangrenous bowel. Gangrene of the intestine is very dangerous if not diagnosed and treated early. Severe pain or vomiting is the primary symptom of this serious occurrence.

Hernias are repaired to eliminate the dangers of potential strangulation, obstruction and gangrene of the intestine. Expert knowledge of the layers of the abdominal wall is required for expert repair of hernias. The science of hernia repair has advanced by requiring less expertise to repair a hernia and by easing recovery but the recurrence rates have remained the same.

 Mesh repairs are the most common repairs and are easily preformed by novice surgeons. Mesh repairs are an application of a patch to the hernia defect.  Anatomical repairs such as the McVay or Basinni repairs are less commonly done and require more expertise. There are relative advantages and disadvantages of all of the types of repairs. The anatomical repairs tend to produce the best long term results. The mesh repairs, also known as tension-free repairs have faster recovery but occasional patients develop an allergic reaction to the mesh which is permanent. We have long been aware of the potential downside of mesh repairs and prefer anatomical repairs for this reason.   Laparoscopic repairs have the fastest recovery and also have the highest failure rate.

Generally speaking a patient is better off picking a surgeon rather than picking a repair. Most surgeons are trained in all forms of hernia repairs. Surgeons will perform the repair that in their experience gives the best results. One type of repair may not be the best for all patients. Surgeons that tailor the repair to the specific anatomical needs of their patient make a decision at the time of surgery about how to repair the hernia. The specific nature of a hernia cannot be determined until the time of surgery.

A proper hernia repair is meant to provide a life time of security and comfort. This result is achieved in over 95% of the cases.