Umbilical hernia confusion
by ccrhdbreg, Mar 21, 2009
I am totally confused about umbilical hernias and exercise.  I have one about a dime-size in diameter that is reducible.  I saw my GP who indicated that since there was no pain it might just stay that way for the rest of my life.  (In her examination she said something about feeling the intestine.) Sort of doing watchful waiting and avoiding things like aggravating it.  I let her know that I like to hike with a pack, bike, jog and exercise. When I asked whether I needed to alter my lifestyle she was very vague and evasive in her answer.  She did refer me to a general surgeon for a consult.  

Here is what is confusing.

1.  If a treatable medical condition such as an umbilical hernia requires an alternation in ones lifestyle why not just fix the condition.  We are not talking open heart surgery here.  Isn't this like seening your dentist becuase your rear molar hurts when you chew food because it is cracked and then being told to just not chew food on that side of the mouth?  Why not fix the hernia rather than me alter my life around it?

2. Some information on adult umbilical hernias says that they should always be fixed unless there is some compelling reason not to - age, proxmity to death, other medical conditions, etc..  That eventually they get worse and its more when rather than if you need the surgery. Assuming there are no other medical reasons not to, repair it should one just do watchful waiting indefinitely?  

3. She cautioned me about going to the emergency room if it became extremely painful. I got that.  She also said that the hernia would either hurt real bad or not at all.  Nothing in between. Yet some websites I looked at say that intermediate and varying levels of pain are possible.

4. What is the appropriate medical response for a physically active male in their fifties who has a reducible umbilical hernia?

I'm in my fifties but not ready to give up or significantly modify my active life so I won't aggravate a hernia that can be repaired.  Am I missing something here?  I am losing my trust in doctors.  I didn't expect to be rushed into emergency surgery but it seems the attitude was 'Oh well'  

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Member Comments (4)
by Dr. Kokil MathurBlank, Mar 21, 2009
Thanks for writing to the forum!
Doctors differ in their opinion regarding adult onset umbilical hernia. For an operation to be successful the cause of hernia has to be eliminated—abdominal muscle stress as in lifting heavy weights, constipation, cough, muscle weakness etc. It is advisable to first eliminate the cause and then go for surgery.
Hope this helps. Please let me know if there is any thing else and do keep me posted. Take care!
by mommyofkiddos, Apr 21, 2009
I just went to the doctor yesterday due to an umbilicord hernia. What I gathered is that in a minority of cases the intestines can protude  and can cause severe problems if it does not get pushed back in. However, this is rare. There can be mild pain if you have fat sticking through the hernia but this does not cause any serious problems other than discomfort.
The surgery is a minor surgery and will help the hernia to not get worse.  This type of surgery is common and is not a big deal. However, surgery in general can cause scarring and has the potential to cause other problems.
So, you can leave the hernia. Perhaps it will get worse or perhaps it will stay the same. Hernias in adults rarely close. Or you can get surgery, it is an outpatient surgery and common. But surgery is surgery and can have deletrious side affects.
If your doctor is giving you an "oh well" attitude it is becuase either option will work but both have their draw backs. Good luck with your decision. I personally am going to the surgeons to have a consult.
by cutrio, Aug 25, 2009
i just had UMBILICAL HERNIA surgery in jan 2009 what type of exercise can i do to start to strenght up my abs again with out hurting my self I just want to get back in shape
by Dr VinodBlank, Aug 26, 2009

You should concentrate on cardio and on keeping yourself fit as a whole.
You are not advised to work out much on abdominal muscles as you were operated for umbilical hernia.
You can run, jog, treadmill etc.
Avoid activities which increase pressure in the abdominal wall like coughing etc.
Assess your case near your surgeon after a year and then you can start mild abdominal exercises based on that.

Take care!