How do I exercise after a hernia without injury?
March 19, 2009 7:54 AM   Subscribe

I am fairly certain I have an inguinal hernia. How do I get back into intense exercise while avoiding injury?

Back in 2006, a sudden start to a new exercise regimen -- from barely exercising computer geek to joining a gym and doing multiple intense sessions a week -- set off an inguinal hernia. Several doctors misdiagnosed it as epididymitis at the time (pain just above my left testicle area). I haven't since had the intense pain that I had in 2006, but it does flare up now and again from certain exercises: pushups, long walks (esp. on hot days), etc.

I'd really like to get back into martial arts (BJJ/MMA), because I remember having a lot of fun doing it when I was a teenager. But I'm scared of suffering the major pain of 2006 again. Some questions:

1. Is surgery necessary in my case? If so, what should I watch out for? Any special questions to ask of the doc? How much recovery time?

2. Are there any exercises I should go easy on, and conversely, are there any I should do more of? Does abdominal strengthening help or hurt?

3. Are there ways to prevent recurrence of the hernia? Obviously I fucked up when I started intense exercise too quickly last time. I think the weightlifting in particular set it off. So this time I'll get back into things more gradually. But is there any other advice?

My current exercise consists of lifting 20 lb dumbbells every morning, forearm strengthener squeezer thing, and 1-5 miles of walking per day.

posted by wastelands to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
This is definitely something to ask a doctor about.
posted by ErWenn at 8:03 AM on March 19, 2009

Been there. Get seen, now. You may be looking at a fairly routine surgical repair. If it strangulates, you'll be facing emergency surgery with fewer options.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 8:24 AM on March 19, 2009

The surgery question is absolutely one for a doctor. For the regimen I'd suggest seeing a Physical Therapist or a DO rather than a doctor or an MD. They might be more open to your self-diagnosis. I was misdiagnosed by a doctor but saw a PT and another PT type specialist and they were able to help me more than a doctor.
posted by scazza at 8:39 AM on March 19, 2009

This happened to me a few years back. I went from no exercise to doing a lot. Lo and behold, I got an inguinal hernia. Luckily I found a good surgeon who examined me, told me that I'd probably had this since I was a kid and that seeing as I was active I should have the surgery done (his opinion was that if I was a couch potato I could probably leave it for a while.) So yeah, find a doctor, get a referral. In your position I wouldn't be doing abdominal exercises, I certainly didn't. And there's peace of mind too, I certainly wouldn't want to be lifting whilst having the thought in the back of my mind that at any time I could put myself in severe pain. As TruncatedTiller said, if it strangulates you're in a whole world of trouble. Not worth it in my opinion...
posted by ob at 9:24 AM on March 19, 2009

Oh btw, my recovery time from regular hernia surgery was about three weeks. As in three weeks before I could work out. You can do most things after a few days. It sounds like you're describing an inguinal hernia as I had the same on and off symptoms, but you really need to see a doctor. There's a test that, if you have one, you, the doctor and everyone within a block will know if you have one or not.
posted by ob at 11:09 AM on March 19, 2009

I had a left inguinal hernia. At the time I was running 3mi/day at about 25min. I got the surgery. Stayed away from running for about 8 weeks. The FIRST time I started running I did the 3mi at 23 minutes...and it just got better from there.

Get the surgery asap...2 months from now you'll be WAY better than if you try to train with the injury.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:32 PM on March 19, 2009

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