2. Symptoms

Symptoms can vary, but can include the following.

Uncomplicated Inguinal Hernia - Signs and Symptoms

  1. Intermittent lump in the groin usually more apparent upon standing up or coughing. 
  2. Pain in the groin which may or may not be associated with a lump.
  3. Dragging sensation or a feeling of “pressure” in the groin.
  4. Discomfort in the testicle and when hernias enlarge a lump protruding into the scrotum from the groin.

Incarcerated Inguinal Hernia - Signs and Symptoms

Usually it is possible if a lump exists to massage it back inside the abdomen without difficulty.  However, occasionally structures, including parts of the bowel, can become trapped within the hernia sac.  This can lead to a strangulated hernia in which the bowel loses its blood supply and is at risk of dying.  This is a potentially life-threatening event requiring emergency surgery.  Studies have failed to identify any specific signs and symptoms which may predict this event.  The risk however is low but probably increases the longer a hernia is left untreated.

Symptoms of a strangulated hernia would include.

  1. Sudden and increased pain in the groin.
  2. The lump becomes painful and irreducible.
  3. The lump may become hot and red.
  4. Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or both.
  5. Fever, sweating or rapid heart rate.

In the event of any of the above occurring emergency medical advice should be sought immediately.

Sportsman’s Hernias

There remains controversy regarding chronic discomfort in the groin in which there is no definite lump.  This often occurs in young, fit, sportsmen and is precipitated by physical activity.  Investigations may include physical examination, ultrasound or MRI scans, all of which are designed to exclude other soft tissue injury.  Your surgeon may then advise undergoing a diagnostic laparoscopy to identify a small hernia.

Go to page 3: tests and diagnosis

Nicholas Boyle


Medical Secretary:
Karen Mays

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