Can Stress Cause a Hernia?

 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

SuperHumans are the toughest, fittest, healthiest and happiest human beings on this planet. My mission is to help you realize your superhuman potential and learn how to live a long, happy and healthy life.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’m a content organizer, fact-checker and super mom who ensures content is medically-reviewed, highly accurate, and engaging. My passion is organizing information and ensuring the facts are presented in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand.

Stress man looking at his computer

It’s no secret that our hectic lifestyle gives way to a lot of ailments and health concerns. Every now and then, we all fall victim to our stressful schedule, which ends up taking a toll on our physical health.

There are a lot of health concerns, such as lower back pain stress, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease linked with stress.

However, can stress cause a hernia as well? In this article, we’re going to find out the answer to this question.

Let’s first start by understanding hernia and its types.

What Is a Hernia?

A hernia is a condition in which the organ or other tissue in the abdomen pushes through the wall of muscle that contains it in place.

This protrusion usually occurs between the hips and chest, within the abdominal cavity. The most common symptom of a hernia is a lump or swelling in the abdomen area.

In some cases, there are no or very few symptoms caused by a hernia.

Types of Hernia

Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal hernia is the most common type of hernia of all and most likely affects men. In this hernia, part of the bowel or fatty tissue pushes through into the groin region at the top of the inner thigh. This is generally linked to repeated strains on the tummy as well as aging. 

Femoral Hernias

When part of the bowel or fatty tissue pushes through the wall of the femoral canal in women, it’s called a femoral hernia.

This results in a bulge near the groin area at the top of the inner thigh. This hernia type is also often linked to aging and repeated tummy strains.

Femoral hernia is less common in comparison to inguinal hernia and often affects elderly women.


Umbilical Hernias

When the fatty tissue or part of the bowel protrudes through the tummy, near the belly button, it’s called an umbilical hernia.

This type of hernia is more common in babies. When the opening in the baby’s tummy from where the umbilical cord passes through isn’t sealed properly after birth, an umbilical hernia is caused.

Repeated strain on the tummy area can sometimes cause an umbilical hernia in adults as well.

Hiatus Hernias

In this hernia, part of the stomach bulges up into the chest cavity via the diaphragm muscle. In most cases, there aren’t any severe symptoms caused by hiatal hernia.

There’s no clear cause of hiatus hernia, but often it’s associated with pressure on the tummy or aging (as it results in a weak diaphragm).

Other Types of Hernias

Epigastric Hernia: When part of the intestine or the fatty tissue protrudes through the stomach area, between the lower part of the breastbone and the belly button, it’s called an epigastric hernia.

Incisional Hernia: When the fatty tissue protrudes through a surgical wound that hasn’t completely healed in the tummy, it’s called an incisional hernia.

Diaphragmatic Hernia: When one or more abdominal organs move into the chest cavity through an opening (which is a birth defect) in the diaphragm, this is called a diaphragmatic hernia. Babies get affected by this type of hernia when the diaphragm hasn’t been fully developed in the mother’s womb.

Spigelian Hernia: When the fatty tissue or part of the intestine pushes through the abdominal area at the side of the abdominal muscle and lower part of belly button, it’s said to be a Spigelian hernia.

Now let’s see how to tell if you have a hernia.

Symptoms of Hernia

Symptoms vary depending upon the type of hernia one develops. In most cases of hernia, it causes no or very few symptoms. In the case of inguinal, umbilical, femoral, and incisional hernia, common symptoms include:

woman with heartburn
  • Heartburn
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Pressure or weakness in the groin
  • Swelling or pain around the testicles
  • Increase in the size of the bulge over time
  • Swelling or bulging (in the abdomen or groin)
  • Discomfort in the groin or abdominal area, that aggravate while lifting or bending over

These symptoms can answer the question “when to worry about hernia pain”.

Causes of Hernia

Often, hernias of all types are caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain or pressure. The weakness or opening of muscle results in a tissue or organ protruding through the weak spot or opening as a result of pressure.

This muscle weakness can be a result of a birth defect or can even occur later in life due to aging or repeated strain on the tummy.

The causes of increased pressure in the abdominal area that can cause hernia include

  • Diarrhea
  • Heavy lifting
  • Constipation
  • Persistent sneezing or coughing

 Other factors that weaken the muscles include:

Hernias and Stress

Now let’s talk about what could be the possible relationship between hernia and stress.

We all know that stress, be it physical stress or emotional stress, affects the way our body functions and its overall well-being. However, in the case of a hernia, physical stress is a bigger culprit.

A hernia is developed when the organ or part of the intestine protrudes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscle.

And the chances of developing a weak spot in the muscle wall increase with strain. Heavy lifting or other activities that put stress on the lower abdomen increase the risk of strain, in turn, chances of developing a hernia.

a man face palming

Whereas, people who already have a hernia, are at risk of it growing large or getting worse as an impact of stress.

Besides, emotional stress is also linked with conditions such as obesity and digestive issues, which further worsen pre-existing hernias or may increase the risk of developing one.

What Foods Should I Avoid With Inguinal Hernia?

Foods that should be avoided with inguinal hernia include:

  • Alcohol beverages should be avoided.
  • Starchy Foods: Rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, etc.
  • Acidic Foods: Lemon, limes, plums, and other citrus fruits.
  • Dairy Products: Whole milk, creamed food, milkshakes, ice cream, etc.
  • Fatty Foods: Bacon, sausage, fried foods, stick margarine, pastries, etc.
  • Sugary Foods: Cookies, candies, cobblers, sweet rolls, soft drinks, energy drinks, orange juice, etc.

What Does a Stress Hernia Feel Like?

A patient with a hernia feels mild pain or a pressure sensation in the abdominal area at the site of the hernia.

Heavy lifting or any repetitive activity that puts stress on the abdomen worsens the discomfort or pain.

The swelling or bulge becomes more obvious in the upright position, especially while bending over, coughing, or lifting a heavy object. However, the bulge is pushed back in or disappears while lying down.

Can Hernias Happen for No Reason?

Sometimes there’s no apparent cause for the development of a hernia. It’s generally said that activities that increase the pressure in the abdomen area result in a hernia.

However, there are many occasions when patients complain of developing a hernia even without heavy lifting or unwarranted stress.

lifting boxes

Though, we can’t completely say that hernia happens for no reason. There are different factors such as aging or congenital birth irregularities that contribute to the development of hernia over time. But predicting who’s going to develop the condition isn’t yet possible.

Does Stress Cause Inguinal Hernia?

Age-related stress and weak muscles are referred to as the general causes of inguinal hernias. Weak spots in the abdominal or groin muscles eventually lead to a hernia when extra pressure is put on the area.

This type of hernia is often common in males, and the causes often include aging and long-term stress on the weakened abdominal muscles.


It’s noteworthy that hernia often doesn’t get better on its own. Thus, reaching out for professional medical help is important.

Your doctor would assess your situation to know the type of hernia you have and its development before suggesting a therapy to address it.

Sometimes, a gentle massage or pressure can also push back the protruding tissue into the belly. Other times, surgery is the only option to get rid of a hernia and eliminate any further risks associated with its development.

As far as stress is concerned, it’s the main culprit behind many health concerns, directly or indirectly.

It contributes to many health issues, be it a hernia, jaw pain from stress, or lower back pain. Living a stress-free life is truly the basis of physical health as well. However, it’s easier said than done.

Therefore, here we have Serenity, our stress buster supplement, which improves sleep and supports better mental and physical recovery!

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