What causes a hernia?

Many things can cause hernias. But mostly, a hernia is caused by weakness in muscles. Following are some examples of things that can cause hernias:

  • People that have had previous surgeries are prone to have muscle weakness at the incision site that can lead to a hernia.
  • People can be born with muscle defects that can cause hernias.
  • Trauma, such as motor vehicle accidents, can lead to a hernia.
  • Increased exercise, causing tears in the muscles, can cause hernias.
  • Lifting heavy objects over a prolonged period of time can cause hernias.

Hernias result from of an area of weakness and strain in the abdominal wall. You may be born with a weakness in the belly button or groin. Or, you may develop the problem after surgery or trauma. Other things that increase your risk of getting a hernia are:

  • smoking
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • straining
  • pregnancy
  • obesity

The most common type of hernia is an inguinal hernia, which occurs in the groin area. Other types of hernias include ventral, umbilical, incisional, femoral and hiatal.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Hernias can be very painful injuries. Learn about how they happen as Dr. Oz explores the way hernias happen and how to prevent them in this video.

Hernias are caused by weakness in the abdominal muscle wall and intra-abdominal pressure. Hernia cannot be caused by pressure on the abdomen alone because a normal, healthy abdominal wall is thick. However, if an opening or weak spot is present then a portion of an organ can bulge out and into other areas of the body.

Openings and weak spots can be congenital or the result of chronic illness, injury, or intense straining of the abdomen muscle. Hernias may occur due to frequent, repetitive lifting of heavy objects, weight gain (obesity), constipation, pregnancy, and chronic coughing.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.