HerniaFilter II
June 20, 2007 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I was just diagnosed with an inguinal hernia, which I've apparently had for almost 2 years now. I know next to nothing about hernias, let alone inguinal hernias, and it looks like it'll be 6-12 weeks before I can get into surgery, and at least 3 weeks before I get a proper consult with the surgeon. I exercise frequently with weight training, cardio, and flexibility training in the gym, and am wondering what if any exercises are safe to continue in the interim, or what exercises definitely need to be avoided. Can I still stay in shape without making this thing worse?

I'm also curious about others' experiences with inguinal hernias - what treatment you got (standard incision vs. laproscopic), the amount of recovery time you had ("normal functionality" vs. heavy lifting or exertion), etc. I've read the other hernia threads so far, and while there were a couple insightful replies, anything and everything I can learn about this and what I can expect with surgery and recovery would be appeciated! Thanks!
posted by skechada to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Best answer: Woot. Something I can help you with. First, be glad you've got an inguinal and not a scrotal. Seriously.

Anyway, when I had mine, I noticed it because of the lump. Yea, the lump where my intestines would push through the muscle gap in the abdominal wall. Fun!

Pushing it back through yourself is called "reducing" it. It's fine to do. The real danger of hernias is that the intestine could twist, cutting off blood flow and thus dying. THAT is scary.

For me, in the mornings it would tend to stay inside. later in the afternoons after much walking/working, it would start to fall out easier. (And no we're not talking like across my whole stomach, just a spot above my pelvis a couple inches across.) Thus, I tried to walk less.

I would AVOID things that involve stretching/working of the abdomen. Situps, stretches, etc, because you'll make the opening "perforation" bigger, and more guts will fall out, you'll have to get a bigger screen, and you'll have a greater liklihood of failure.

My personal surgery was uneventful, besides that the pain drugs make me sick, so I just didn't take them. They don't actually give you external stitches, in an effort to minimize scarring. So, you get a fun menstrual-pad looking thing over the incision. When I got home, fluid started draining down my leg when I got up to go to the bathroom. I was terrified, so we went to the ER and I got to show my junk to the entire waiting room at the ER! YAY!

But besides that, I never actually went back to the doctor after 1 week. I don't really have a scar (was about a 5 inch incision), but I DO have a significant numb spot in my pelvis. THANKFULLY it ends before my sexual organs, but UNFORTUNATELY it means that I really don't like being touched next to them on that side, because I can feel the pressure but not the sensation.

I took it easy for about 1 week after my surgery, after all I was running a summer camp, how easy can you take it?

You'll be fine, it's really very minor, but make sure if your intestines start to come through the perforation that you push them back through. You'll learn it...I usually did it left to right, just kinda running my hand across it.

Feel free to email me directly if you want more detail.
posted by TomMelee at 1:18 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yesterday was my first visit with a new doctor, who was less than insightful/helpful with what I can expect, save for a business card/referral for a surgeon, who happens to be out of the country until July 1st. So I'm looking for a new doctor (this guy was a family practitioner apparently in the middle of a bad day - I'm now looking for a quality Internist instead). I've googled and wiki'ed the condition, but those links don't talk specifically about types of exercise that may be OK or anything other than the general "1-4 weeks recovery time". They did mention that being in shape before the surgery significantly improves outcomes, and I'd like to try to stay in shape as much as possible, without making the condition worse.

I'm hoping to tap the hive mindfor any insights, things to pursue, things to avoid, etc., in lieu of getting satisfactory advice so far. Hope that clarifies my question a bit. :)
posted by skechada at 1:20 PM on June 20, 2007

A good friend of mine had an inguinal hernia repaired laparoscopically. While he was waiting in the Day Surgery Unit for it to be done, he got chatting to the guy in the next bay who was also having a hernia done, immediately before him on the operating list. When my friend came round from the procedure in Recovery he could feel no pain at all, and decided to immediately discharge himself and go back to work. The guy who went to the OR before him was screaming in pain however. The surgeon came to see them both on the post-op ward round and went up to the guy in the next bay to explain that they never got to fix his hernia or indeed start the operation because of anaesthetic complications. If there is a moral here, it's that post-operative pain is minimal after a laparoscopy, unless you are expecting it to hurt.
And to answer the fitness question, both before, and for 6 weeks after the procedure you need to avoid any exercise that raises your abdominal pressure. No weightlifting, no trampolining, probably no running either. Ask your surgeon, but swimming should be fine.
posted by roofus at 2:15 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I had one of these several years ago. I'd say avoid exercise, honestly. You're going to make the tear worse.

But I'm not a doctor, so maybe ask yours instead. ;-)
posted by secret about box at 2:17 PM on June 20, 2007

(Rather, avoid weightlifting and such before your surgery.)
posted by secret about box at 2:18 PM on June 20, 2007

I had a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, or gallbladder removal, and the most painful aspect of the lapascopic aspect was that they inflate your abdomen in order to make room to work. I didn't feel bloated afterward, but for a couple of nights it was incredibly painful to lie flat in bed. It sent sharp pains shooting into my shoulders. I slept sitting up. I was told to expect this, though, so it didn't freak me out.

The other thing is that the umbilical (belly button) incision is incredibly easy to get infected, since it's in a fold (well, for me it's in a fold). I did get an infection and had to take on a pretty rigid regimen of iodine cleanings and bandage changings for about an additional 10 days.

I still have the laparocopy scars and on me they're quite visible, or at least the one at the solar plexus is. Obviously everyone's skin scars differently though.

I was off work for three weeks after my surgery and wasn't moving around freely or taking care of myself for the first week. I'm not sure how cholecystectomy compares to hernia repair, but I imagine the limitations are similar. The point is, everyone's reaction to these things and healing time is so so so different it's difficult to generalize.
posted by loiseau at 3:46 PM on June 20, 2007

Oh - and the last thing - my incisions were taped rather than stitched.
posted by loiseau at 3:47 PM on June 20, 2007

Best answer: I would avoid doing heavy lifting and too many ab excersises before the surgery. I had an inguinal hernia repaired two years ago, and I agree with those who've said that you should be careful not to make it worse. If you do make it worse I would imagine that they'll have to repair more making your post-op pain that little bit worse and you don't want to do this. I had standard surgery and it was painful for a few days after but once I recovered I felt stronger in my lower abs in a way that I hadn't felt before. Still you will have to take it easy after the surgery as well. Good luck!
posted by ob at 3:55 PM on June 20, 2007

Best answer: if you work out every day, you're already in good shape. when they say that physical fitness helps your recovery, they mean not being 50 lbs overweight and a chain smoker.

i'm not a doctor, but i wouldn't do anything with your abs or hips until after the surgery. it doesn't sound like anything you want to make worse.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:56 PM on June 20, 2007

Find out what a Valsalva maneuver is and cut out everything in your workout routine that requires it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:41 PM on June 20, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies so far - it's become obvious that I need to avoid physical activity as much as possible until after I'm fully recovered. I really had almost no idea what to expect when I posted this thread, and your replies so far have shed a lot of light into the condition.
posted by skechada at 8:07 AM on June 21, 2007

« Older If I move to San Fran and earn the same salary as...   |   We're just a million little gods making rainstorms... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.