The Herniabible Blog

advice from people who have had an inguinal hernia

Alternative Treatments For Inguinal Hernia

There are two approaches to the alternative treatment of a small inguinal hernia. If the hernia is painful, the first priority is to prevent the pain rather than try to control it. If you understand what causes hernia pain, it becomes easier to prevent.

Hernias hurt because they are a piece of intestine that has fallen out of position through a gap in the muscle of your abdominal wall. Instead of being nicely cushioned, this piece of intestine is sitting very uncomfortably, held inside your body by your skin alone. Yet it still has to process large quantities of food while in this new, awkward position. The food causes pressure, and it is the pressure which hurts. People with a hernia usually feel worse after consuming a large, heavy meal.

If your intestines are sluggish, food residues will take a long time to pass along your intestines, and this causes even more pressure, especially when you are straining on the lavatory. More pressure = more pain.

Alternative treatments

Not surprisingly, the alternative treatment to prevent this pain is to eat smaller meals, so that your intestines will not be overloaded. It is also important to prevent constipation, so foods such as figs and prunes, apple purée (apple sauce), berries and other pectin-rich fruits will be very helpful. Leafy greens and most other vegetables are useful too. You should eat enough of these foods every day to create at least one slippery bowel movement that comes out with very little effort.

Hernias sometimes get hot and inflamed, which causes pain and can even get the hernia trapped (incarcerated). If you feel any heat or discomfort, another alternative hernia treatment technique is to soak a cloth in cold water, wring it out and hold it against your hernia to cool it down. Several people have reported to us that this brings relief. Even a cold drinks can held against the hernia can help to relieve discomfort.

Exercise is an important alternative treatment

… but it has to be the right type of exercise, which strengthens the right abdominal muscles. Most abdominal exercises are useless for a hernia because they target the ‘six-pack’ muscle – the most superficial of your tummy muscles. It is the ones underneath – the so-called ‘core muscles’ such as the transverse abdominals – which need to be developed. The Pilates exercise system was developed especially for this. These exercises are very good alternative treatments for a hernia, but they have do be done correctly, so we recommend attending a few classes first. Pilates tones up your whole body pretty well, so you ‘ll get some extra benefits too.

Herbal alternative treatments

You’ll find quite a few websites which claim to cure an inguinal hernia with their special herbal formulas. Don’t fall for this scam. At best some of these herbs such as fennel or hawthorn may have a cooling or laxative effect to help relieve the pressure in your intestines. That may help you feel better but it won’t cure you.

There is an ancient Chinese formula called Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan which was developed thousands of years ago as a treatment for all kinds of prolapses including hernias. A good quality version of this formula can certainly help to encourage healing by strengthening your collagen – the protein from which most of the fabric of your body is made.  But once again, this is not an alternative treatment to be used on its own, only as part of a holistic program.

The most important alternative treatment of all

Keep the hernia in! Keep the intestine inside and don’t let it bulge through your skin. If it continues to bulge out it will get bigger because it will force the gap in your muscle to stay open. The gap can only close up and attempt to heal itself if there is nothing pushing through it.

You may not like the idea of wearing a truss or hernia support for your groin hernia, but if you think of it as an alternative treatment which will give your hernia more of a chance to heal itself, you may feel better about it. Some people have had to wear their hernia support for only six months before finding that the hernia would then stay in on its own. (Of course they did the necessary exercises and were careful about their diet too…)

At Herniabible we recommend only the Flat Pad Support made by our sister company The Support Company. It has two unique features. Firstly the flat pads keep the hernia in but are not rounded so they don’t intrude into the gap in your abdominal muscle. Remember – if the gap is to heal there should be nothing sticking through it in either direction (inwards or outwards). Wearing a truss with rounded pads could actually hinder healing.

Secondly, the Flat Pad Support comes with a money-back guarantee to hold in a small to medium hernia at all times. That means whether you are walking, running, cycling, doing karate, or digging in the garden. People report that it gives much more confidence in being able to carry out demanding tasks. The reason why we recommend it as an important part of an alternative treatment program for a hernia is that it allows you to live your normal live without aggravating your hernia. Although clinical trials have not yet been carried out, it seems entirely possible that by holding in your hernia permanently, it will help to prevent your hernia from getting larger, and will give the gap in your abdominal muscle a chance to heal.

What are the chances of healing?

If you check out the Herniabible forum and website you will find several case reports of people whose hernias have healed. It doesn’t happen every time, but these reports show that it is possible.

It can be difficult to go against a doctor’s advice and attempt an alternative treatment program for a hernia on your own. Doctors have been taught that surgery is the only treatment that works. Even though they don’t know this for a fact, they still tend to repeat it to all their hernia patients. The problem is that up to 30 per cent of people who have had hernia surgery end up with a lifetime of pain and discomfort afterwards. The statistics can be found on the Herniabible website, and we are also running a survey for people who visit this blog (see panel on right-hand side).

If your hernia is still small, we think it’s well worth trying alternative treatments for your hernia. But as with any long-standing condition, do get checked by a doctor from time to time, and check out our post on strangulated hernias.

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May 24, 2010 Posted by | Alternative treatments | , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Strangulated Hernia

Doctors often say ‘ Don’t try any alternatives for healing your own hernia – they don’t work and you risk getting a life-threatening strangulated hernia.’

This puts many people off trying natural methods to deal with their hernia, such as a change of diet, Pilates exercises and wearing a good quality hernia support garment. Hopefully this article will help you to recognize the symptoms of a strangulated hernia so that if you do decide not to opt for surgery straight away, then you can seek immediate medical attention in the event that you really need it.

What is a strangulated hernia?

A hernia is a piece of intestine which is poking through a gap in the muscle of your abdominal wall. It is seen as a bulge under the skin. If the hernia is ‘reducible’ you can push it back inside your abdomen again, but gravity usually makes it pop right back out.

As time goes by, gravity makes more and more of the intestine try to fall through this gap, and the gap tends to widen. The more it widens, the more intestine tries to emerge. If you don’t wear something to keep the intestine properly inside your abdomen, your hernia could become quite large over the years and the gap can close up around it, preventing it from being pushed back in again. Once this happens, your hernia will be classed as ‘incarcerated’ or ‘non-reducible’. It’s not good, but it’s not life-threatening and lots of people live like this for many years.

However if the piece of intestine becomes swollen, or the muscle gets a spasm for some reason and makes the edges of the gap grip the intestine too tightly, the intestine’s blood supply can get cut off and food cannot pass through it. This is known as strangulation – exactly as if someone has their hands around your neck and is tightening them!

A strangulated hernia is a life-threatening situation and requires immediate emergency surgery.

What are the symptoms of a strangulated hernia?

Any hernia can hurt, but the pain of a strangulated hernia is extremely severe, and the hernia itself is tender to the touch. There is also often some nausea or even vomiting, due to the passage of food down the intestine being blocked. Anyone with these symptoms should be rushed to the emergency room of a hospital straight away, without delay. The only cure for a strangulated hernia is emergency surgery.

How common is a strangulated hernia?

The good news is that a strangulated hernia is not very common. Just be aware of the possibility, and don’t delay in seeking medical attention if you think it has occurred.

May 24, 2010 Posted by | Inguinal hernia | , | 2 Comments