Inguinal hernias occur when a weakness or defect in the abdominal wall allows a piece of intestine to pop out of the abdominal cavity. Symptoms commonly associated with hernias include pain, discomfort, pressure, or a bulge in the groin area. Unfortunately, hernias do not go away on their own; surgical intervention is the definitive treatment. The natural progression of over 80% of hernias is to become larger and more painful over time. Therefore, we tend to recommend surgery for those patients who have already experienced a worsening of their symptoms.
Occasionally we encounter a patient who would benefit from surgery, but is not yet ready to commit to a procedure. For these patients, we recommend a hernia belt or hernia truss. The purpose of a hernia truss is to hold the hernia in place throughout the day by putting pressure on the groin area. While they can be very effective in short term management, hernia trusses come with some difficulties.
First of all, the truss is not very easy to properly put on. In order to maximize the benefits, you must be able to properly put the truss on and wear it throughout the day. It is easiest to put the truss on while lying down, as it is crucial to ensure that your hernia is fully reduced (intestine is returned to your abdominal cavity and groin bulge is not present) before tightening the truss.
Unfortunately, the truss must be taken off every time you have to use the restroom. While you may have no issue getting the truss on properly in the morning, this will likely not be the case throughout the day. It is much more difficult to get the hernia truss on properly while standing.
Most patients eventually get tired of dealing with the hernia truss, and move towards surgery to fix their inguinal hernias. While the truss can effectively provide short term relief of inguinal hernia symptoms until you are ready to have surgery, it is not practical to rely on long term.
You can purchase a hernia truss at specific medical supply stores. If you are in the Boston area, check out Caraway Wellness, just north of the city in Woburn, MA. There is also a wide selection on Amazon.com.