What is a Testicular (Inguinal) Hernia: Symptoms, Treatment, Surgery

Weight lifting provides a multitude of health benefits, from improved bone density to a reduction in body fat, but occasionally it goes too far. One of the most common injuries in the competitive lifting sport and bodybuilding worlds is the testicular hernia. The following is what you should know about this issue.

What is a Testicular Hernia?

The medical classification for this condition is inguinal hernia (ICD-10 K40.90). While commonly referred to as testicular hernia, the inguinal hernia originates in the bowel, not the scrotum.

Physically, the muscles of the abdomen weaken to the point of breaking and allowing soft tissues to fall through. Contributing and risk factors for developing a hernia include:

  • Pressure in the abs because of fat deposits or extra fluid
  • Pregnancy
  • Heavy lifting (sports, weight lifting, moving furniture, etc.)
  • Constipation or IBS that results in repetitive straining for bowel movements
  • Chronic cough (from pneumonia, bronchitis, COPD, lung cancer, etc.)

Chances of developing a hernia also increase as we age. Muscles naturally weaken as the numbers of the birthday candles rises.

Men, for undetermined reasons, are at a greater risk of developing a hernia than women.

Testicular Hernia Symptoms

The signs of this muscle malfunction can cause swelling in the testes and around the groin. The ball swelling is what has given the condition its male anatomy nickname. Other testicular hernia symptoms include:

  • A bulge in the abdomen or groin
  • Burning or aching on the bump
  • Pain in stomach and privates, especially when coughing, twisting, bending over, or lifting
  • A heavy, dragging sensation in the lower torso
  • Discomfort in the testes, when the tissue protrudes into the scrotum.

Many men continue to live with the hernia without treatment, but it cannot heal autonomously. If it is not causing pain or progressing to more serious levels, a man can still enjoy a healthy life, but should monitor the bulges for changes.

Testicular Hernia in Children

Testicular hernias are fairly common in infants, especially males, because their abdominal walls haven’t had the opportunity to strengthen yet. The bulge is more visible when the child is crying, pooping, or coughing. Watch for signs of extra irritability and weird bumps in the stomach area. In older kids, standing for a long period of time can bring the lump to the surface.

Testicular Hernia Treatment & Diagnosis

To diagnose a hernia, most doctors will only need to perform a physical examination. Hernias with visible bulges are obviously easier to identify, but a hands-on exam can locate abnormalities easily. In tougher cases, an ultrasound technician will have to perform tests to check for internal problems and complications from the prolapse.

Testicular hernia treatment usually defaults to surgery. It is not an injury that can heal itself, but some techniques can thwart pain if surgery isn’t desired or medically unadvised. One option is to wear a supportive garment, like a corset, truss, or binder. This prevents the bulge from expanding and can provide some pain relief.

Testicular Hernia Surgery

If no pain is present, a person can function normally with a hernia. Doctor’s recommend pursuing testicular hernia surgery if:

  • Pain becomes unbearable
  • The bulge becomes larger or the bulge multiples
  • Daily activities become difficult

Here is what you can expect with this surgical hernia repair. This can be an open surgery (large incision), but is usually performed laparoscopically (tiny incision with a camera). The bulge is removed and then sewed back up more securely.

In cases where the muscles have been severely compromised, a Transabdominal preperitoneal (TAPP) can be a solution. Surgeons peel back a layer of skin near the hernia and implant surgical mesh to strengthen the abdominal wall.

Recovery takes at least one to two weeks, but can extend as long as six weeks. During that time, it is important to properly rest, get moderate exercise, eat plenty of protein (the building block of new cells), and drink plenty of water. Anything you can do to boost your overall health will improve the chances of a quick recovery.

How to Reduce Swelling After Surgery

Puffiness is a normal after-effect of surgery and not a cause for concern.

Although, bloating can be uncomfortable, so here is how to reduce swelling after surgery:

  • Ice packs. Place on the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes and then remove. Repeat the process every one or two hours.
  • Compression clothing. Whether medical or civilian, supportive clothing can reduce swelling and increase circulation.
  • Eat foods rich in bromelain and quercetin like red onions, capers, pineapples, and apples.
  • Movement. Follow the physical therapist’s instructions, but moving is great for surgery recovery. Avoid heavy lifting, but walking and casual cal esthetics are safe. The lymphatic system requires movement to flush out the fluid and toxins that are causing swelling in the first place.

Pictures of Sport Hernia

The sudden changes in direction prevalent in sports like basketball, football, soccer, and hockey can lead to strains in the lower abdomen and groin. The tears don’t cause a visible bulge, like in testicular hernias, and are referred to as athletic or sports hernias. Left untreated or ignored, a sports hernia can evolve into a traditional abdominal hernia.

Curious what a sports hernia might look like? Or what moves might result in this injury? This photo gallery could help you out.



Article References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/inguinal-hernia-repair#causes
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/inguinal-hernia/symptoms-causes/syc-20351547
  3. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2013/0615/p844.html
  4. https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/qa/what-are-nonsurgical-treatments-for-a-hernia
  5. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/inguinal-hernia-repair/what-happens/
  6. https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/surgicaldetail/open-inguinal-hernia-repair-herniorrhaphy-hernioplasty/hw170381.html
  7. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/surgery-healing_n_1623113
  8. https://www.unitypoint.org/livewell/article.aspx?id=333d5032-1ca3-4769-bb05-c0302bc31fe6
  9. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/sports-hernia-athletic-pubalgia