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Osteopathic alternative treatment for an inguinal hernia

Updated April 17, 2017

Inguinal hernia is a condition usually suffered by boys and men, where a portion of the intestine bulges through a weak spot in the lower abdominal muscles into the groin area. Babies occasionally get inguinal hernia from straining at a bowel movement or crying vigorously. Some people experience pain with this condition if the intestine is pinched tightly, but many only have minor discomfort.

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Traditional Treatment

If you have developed an inguinal hernia, rest is a very important part of traditional allopathic as well as osteopathic treatment. You should avoid activities that strain the area or cause the intestine to bulge further. Seek medical help as soon as possible after you notice the hernia. If left too long without treatment, the muscle wall may try to heal itself around the piece of gut poking through it, making it more difficult to treat.

Your health care provider may prescribe surgery to close up the weak area, but many people are able to manage their hernias and do just as well as those who opt for surgery, according to Harvard Health Publications.

Osteopathic Treatment

You may be able to get some relief for your hernia without surgery, but the tear will not usually repair itself, according to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, or SAGES. As stated earlier, rest is very important. Try lying on your back with your feet higher than your head. This can sometimes help the intestine slide back into place. Look in your local phone book for a doctor of osteopathy. Many DO's practice visceral manipulation, which is a type of massage that is intended to free up adhesions and other problems with soft internal organs. An osteopathic practitioner will prescribe surgery if your hernia worsens or is causing discomfort, as stated on the American Osteopathic Association site.

Even without the massage, you may find relief with a specially made truss, or support brace that holds the intestine in place while the muscle heals. You can purchase one of these trusses online or you may be prescribed one by your health care provider. A truss is to assist your healing, but do not think of it as license to go back to your normal level of activity. An osteopathic doctor may give you some light exercises to do to strengthen the muscles of the abdominal wall. If you notice the area feeling hot and feverish, you may apply a cool compress or ice pack, but consult your physician. This may be a sign that the hernia is "incarcerated," or stuck. If it stays this way, it may become strangulated, which would require emergency surgery to correct before the bulging section of intestine died for lack of circulation, according to SAGES.

With rest, the truss, massage and exercise, you may be able to manage your hernia so that it does not cause problems for a long time. You may still eventually need surgery if the opening in your abdominal wall gets larger. Discuss all courses of action with your health care provider to avoid possible injury.

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About the Author

Theresa L Johnston is a Southern writer with expertise in alternative medicine, gardening and behavioral and women's health issues. She has been published at http://www.ehow.com, in "The Mostly ARTzine," and has edited several newsletters. She has written procedures manuals, call scripts, and youth group curriculum for her various employers over the last 10 years.

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