While no one wants to get an inguinal hernia, from a medical perspective, you have to admire their versatility.

The inguinal hernia – a protrusion of abdominal-cavity contents through the inguinal canal – can be found in a variety of forms. It can be associated with no symptoms at all or intense pain and discomfort. It can change from a minor annoyance to a serious condition. It can morph from easily treatable to quite complicated.

It can arise at any time from infancy to adulthood. And while it occurs far more frequently in men (lifetime risk of 27%), it does occasionally occur in women (lifetime risk of 3%). In men, inguinal hernias typically develop in the groin area near the scrotum; further evidence of its versatility is that it can appear on either or both (double hernia) sides.

But its real versatility is displayed in the various types:

  • Indirect inguinal hernia – The most common type of inguinal hernia. It often occurs in premature births, before the inguinal canal becomes closed off. However, this type of hernia can occur at any time during your life and is most common in males.
  • Direct inguinal hernia – Most often occurs in adults as they age. The popular belief is that weakening muscles during adulthood lead to a direct inguinal hernia.
  • Incarcerated inguinal hernia – Occurs when tissue becomes stuck in the groin and isn’t reducible, which means it can’t be pushed back into place (more on that later).
  • Strangulated inguinal hernia – A much more serious medical condition. This is when intestine in an incarcerated hernia has its blood flow cut off. Strangulated hernias are life-threatening and require emergency medical care. 

Did you think their versatility ended there? Not so fast. These sometimes painful, sometimes serious, and always annoying inguinal hernias can be classified in even more ways:

  • Reducible – This is a hernia with a bulge that flattens out when you lie down or push against it gently. This type of hernia is not an immediate danger to your health and can be pushed back into place.
  • Non-reducible – This occurs when the loop of the intestine becomes trapped and you lose the ability to make the bulge flatten out. Non-reducible hernias are often very painful and require prompt medical attention.

Certainly, while the versatility of the inguinal hernia may be admirable, it’s likely that, if you have one, you’re only interested in how to treat it. There is very little disagreement that non-reducible hernias require surgery. Reducible hernias are another matter. Some physicians maintain that no hernia will completely heal without surgery. Others will steer away from surgery when a hernia isn’t causing a problem or a patient has few or no symptoms.

To be sure, hernia repairs are common—more than one million hernia repairs are performed each year in the U.S. Approximately 800,000 are to repair inguinal hernias and the rest are for other types of hernias. Repair of Inguinal hernias is among the most frequently performed surgeries in the U.S.

Yet, even when surgery is not immediately necessary, a reducible inguinal hernia still requires attention. Thankfully, there are non-invasive ways to avoid surgery, such as hernia support. The Hernia Supports provide gentle but strong, gradual compression to support weakened abdominal muscles and hold a reducible inguinal hernia in place (after being pushed back in by a physician). Recommended for single or double reducible inguinal hernias, the MAXAR Deluxe Hernia Support is comprised of extremely comfortable elastic and cotton material and features a unique design that makes it easily adjustable for proper fit and support. It’s invisible under clothing and is FDA approved and CE Certified.

Best of all, just like the inguinal hernia, the MAXAR Deluxe Hernia Support exhibits versatility of its own. It can be worn in place of surgery, or post-surgery to help promote better healing. It can even be worn until the date of surgery to ensure the hernia does not worsen.

Although inguinal hernia can have serious symptoms, preventing it from worsening and treating it properly will make the difference between a minor annoyance and a serious condition.