Chiropractor In Davenport, IA Explains: What Is A Hernia?

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A hernia is any tissue that pushes through a surrounding enclosure. This can occur in a number of different areas. The most common is in the inguinal (groin) region. Another common area is in the spine and is known as a disc herniation. A third common herniation is a hiatal hernia, where part of the stomach protrudes back up through the diaphragm. The main cause of any hernia is weakness of the surrounding enclosure. If a tissue has excess stress on it and pushes against the surrounding enclosure that is weak, it can push through resulting in a herniation.

The abdomen and groin region is notoriously weak in the current population. This is due mainly to poor posture, too much sitting, excess weight, and lack of proper exercises. Lack of core strength does not allow for proper stabilization of the lumbar spine (low back), which is done by increasing your intra-abdominal pressure. Increasing your intra-abdominal pressure can be done by bearing down, coughing, sneezing, and is usually at its max when lifting something very heavy. If there is more pressure than resistance from the surrounding enclosure then a portion of the intestines can poke through the abdominal wall but not breaking through the skin and forming a tender mass. This is an abdominal/inguinal hernia.

If this tender mass does not retract into the abdomen, it can become strangulated. This means that the blood supply is cut off from the tissue that is herniated. This is a cause for emergency surgery, because the tissue will die without a blood supply. This type of hernia can usually be prevented by doing proper core stability exercises and using proper lifting techniques. Treatment usually involves surgery to close the hole. Unfortunately, this does not address the underlying problem of abdominal wall weakness. Core stability is the best prevention.

A hiatal hernia is where a portion of the stomach protrudes back up through the diaphragm. This can cause chest pain, upset stomach, acid reflux, and difficulty swallowing. No exact cause can be pinpointed, but risk factors for adults include: increasing age, obesity, smoking, and weakness of the diaphragm. Children that have this condition are usually born with it. Treatment usually involves modification of behavior such as not eating large meals and not lying down within an hour of eating. Surgery is an extreme option if the symptoms are not controlled by lifestyle modification. The best prevention is reducing the risk factors associated with this type of hernia.

As a Chiropractor, I see disc herniation more than any other type of herniation. Unfortunately, disc herniation can have the most wide-ranging and debilitating effects on an individual.  When a disc herniates, it can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves exiting the spinal cord. This can lead to pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the areas of the affected nerve. The most common area of disc herniation is in the lumbar spine (low back). This condition is often referred to as sciatica. It can also affect bowel and bladder function.

Disc herniation often occurs when some degeneration of the spine has occurred, namely in older individuals with it being more prevalent in males. Degeneration can affect the ligaments that hold the disc in place and more susceptible to herniate. Once again, increasing intra-abdominal pressure is often the culprit in bring about a herniation. Good posture, proper lifting techniques, good core stability, and making sure that your lumbar vertebrae are in proper alignment are all good preventative measures. Chiropractors are a great resource for checking that your vertebrae are in line, giving core stability exercises that help maintain good posture, and showing proper lifting techniques. Plus, in comparison with more risky procedures like surgery, the incidence of making the herniation worse with a chiropractic adjustment is 1 in 3.7 million. You have only health to gain by seeing a chiropractor. See your Chiropractor in Davenport to get on the road to health and prevention. Get Adjusted and Be Well!


1.            Board, A.D.A.M. Editorial. “Hernia.” Hernia. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Nov. 0000. Web. 07 Mar. 2012.       <>.

2.            Board, A.D.A.M. Editorial. “Hiatal Hernia.” Hiatal Hernia. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Nov. 0000. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. <>.

3.            Board, A.D.A.M. Editorial. “Herniated Disk.” Herniated Disk. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Nov. 0000. Web. 07 Mar. 2012. <>.

4.            Oliphant D.  Safety of spinal manipulation in the treatment of lumbar disk herniations: a systematic review and risk assessment. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics 2004; 27(3): 197-210.

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