A soft lump in the groin, near the navel, or near a surgical scar may
be caused by a weakening in a muscle wall. This is called a
hernia. It is formed when an internal organ (usually
the bowel) pushes out through the muscle. The lump or swelling usually goes
away when you press on it or lie down and may get worse when you cough.
Although pain is not always present, a hernia can cause pain, which
can range from mild tenderness to severe pain. A hernia can also cause nausea
and vomiting when a part of an organ, usually an intestine, bulges outside the
abdomen and becomes trapped (incarcerated).
A physical exam by your health care provider is often enough to diagnose a hernia. Sometimes hernia swelling is visible when you stand upright; usually, the hernia can be felt if you place your hand directly over it and then bear down. Ultrasound may be used to see a femoral hernia, and abdominal X-rays may be ordered to determine if a bowel obstruction is present.