Epigastric Hernias: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery

Epigastric hernias are a common type of hernia that occur in the upper abdomen. Although they may not receive as much attention as other hernias, understanding their causes, recognizing the symptoms, and knowing the available treatment options are essential for timely intervention. In this post, we will delve into the world of epigastric hernias, exploring their causes, symptoms, treatment methods, and the recovery process.

What are Epigastric Hernias?

Epigastric hernias are characterized by a small bulge or protrusion of fatty tissue or sometimes intestines through a weakened area in the abdominal wall, specifically in the epigastric region, located between the breastbone and the navel. This type of hernia occurs when the muscles in the area are weakened or have a natural defect, allowing tissues to push through.

What Causes an Epigastric Hernia?

Epigastric hernias typically develop due to a combination of factors, including:

  • Congenital weakness: Some individuals are born with a natural weakness in the abdominal wall, making them more prone to developing hernias
  • Increased abdominal pressure: Activities that put excessive strain on the abdominal muscles, such as heavy lifting, chronic coughing, or obesity, can contribute to the weakness of the abdomen and the development of epigastric hernias

What are the Symptoms of an Epigastric Hernia?

Epigastric hernias may present the following symptoms:

  • Visible bulge: A small, soft bulge or lump may be visible in the epigastric region
  • Discomfort or pain: The hernia may cause intermittent or persistent pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • Nausea or vomiting: In some cases, the hernia may lead to gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea or vomiting

How can Epigastric Hernias be Treated?

  • Watchful waiting: Small, asymptomatic epigastric hernias, that present as no more than a lump, may not require immediate treatment. Regular monitoring by a healthcare professional is recommended to ensure any changes or complications are detected promptly
  • Supportive measures: Wearing a supportive abdominal binder or belt may help alleviate discomfort and provide temporary relief
  • Surgical repair: In cases where the hernia causes symptoms or increases in size, surgery is usually recommended. The surgical procedure typically involves pushing the herniated tissue back into place and strengthening the abdominal wall with sutures or a synthetic mesh

What is Recovery Like Following Epigastric Hernia Surgery?

The recovery process following surgical repair of an epigastric hernia may vary from person to person. Here are some general considerations:

  • Hospital stay: Epigastric hernia repair is often performed as an outpatient procedure, allowing patients to return home on the same day. However, some cases may require a short hospital stay
  • Driving: Most patients will be able to drive within about a week 10 days, however, this is something you will need to discuss this with your insurance company
  • Postoperative care: Following surgery, patients are advised to take it easy and avoid strenuous activities for a few weeks. It is crucial to follow the specific postoperative instructions provided by the surgeon, which may include restrictions on lifting heavy objects or engaging in vigorous exercises
  • Pain management: Mild to moderate pain or discomfort in the surgical area is common. Pain medication prescribed by the surgeon can help manage postoperative pain
  • Recovery timeline: The recovery period varies, but most individuals can resume normal activities including contact sports within five to six weeks of the operation. It is essential to listen to the body’s signals and gradually increase physical activity levels as tolerated

Epigastric hernias can cause discomfort and affect daily life, but timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. If you suspect you have an epigastric hernia or experience any symptoms, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Remember, early intervention and proper care contribute to a smoother recovery and improved quality of life.

If you are concerned that you may have an Epigastric Hernia and any pain or discomfort you may have, our team will be more than happy to help and investigate your symptoms further. Please email us at info@midlandscolorectal.co.uk or enquire online to learn more.