It might seem bizarre, but hernias are actually quite similar to carpal tunnel syndrome. At first, it might be difficult to see how a protruding organ in the abdomen is linked to pinched nerves in the wrist. However, a 2015 research study by the Meridian Surgery Center’s Cascade Hernia Institute found some surprising similarities between the two medical conditions.
Though not all types of hernias are linked to carpal tunnel syndrome in any way, the five year long study found that inguinal hernias often had a few things in common with carpal tunnel syndrome. Inguinal hernias are hernias that occur when part of the intestines bulge down into the groin or upper leg area. Dr. Robert C. Wright, the surgeon who lead this revolutionary study, found that inguinal hernias could often result in pinched nerves, just like carpal tunnel syndrome. In carpal tunnel syndrome, a patient starts to experience pain after their wrists and arms constantly put pressure onto certain nerves. It turns out that a similar issue happens to the nerves of patients with inguinal hernias.
Almost two thirds of people with inguinal hernias suffer from pain because the bulging organs put pressure on nerves that run from the spine to the legs. It was previously assumed that most pain during a hernia comes from the pinched organs and the penetrated muscle tissue, but this is not the case for many patients. Instead, what is actually happening is that the hernia is putting pressure on a nerve, which causes the nerve to become damaged. If the hernia is left untreated, the nerve starts to display characteristics that are just like the wrist nerves of people dealing with carpal tunnel. The nerves of patients in both groups became enlarged, and they started to suffer from increased sensations of pain.
The American Hernia Society hopes that this study will provide help in treating hernia symptoms. Though only surgery can stop the hernia altogether, borrowing methods used for carpal tunnel pain relief may prove effective for patients dealing with pain from a hernia. Even after hernia surgery, the previously trapped nerves can continue to ache because they were damaged just like wrist nerves are damaged in carpal tunnel syndrome. Now that surgeons know how common it is for patients with inguinal hernias to suffer from entrapment neuropathy, it may become easier to fix it. Since nerves that are put under consistent pressure result in shooting pains and dull aches, any potential pain management techniques will be helpful to people suffering from hernias.