Winter sports are a great way to make the most of the colder weather. Whether you love to ski, snowboard, or head out on the ice rink, there are lots of fun activities you can do this festive season. However, before you hit the slopes, did you know that some winter sports can cause a hernia?

Here, we will look at the winter sports that can cause a hernia and how you can prevent them. You will also learn more about how they can be diagnosed and treated.

Which types of winter sports can cause a hernia?

Pretty much all sports in winter can be potentially hazardous. However, some are known to have an increased hernia risk than others. The main activities and sports to be wary of this winter include:

  • Skiing or snowboarding
  • Snow shovelling
  • Ice skating
  • Walking

Whether you are jetting off on the slopes or you are heading to an indoor skiing centre, you’re going to need to be careful if you want to avoid a hernia. Falling while skiing or snowboarding can sometimes cause a hernia. This is because the legs are strapped into the skis or board, which causes extra pressure to be placed on the abdominals and groin when a fall occurs.

You don’t even need to be doing anything extreme to get a hernia this winter. Some patients develop a hernia after shovelling snow from their driveway. The strain placed onto the core while shovelling can cause a hernia.

It is always a good idea to stretch and warm-up before attempting any strenuous exercise. Also, avoid trying to shovel up too much snow at one time. Keep the shovel as light as possible to avoid placing too much pressure on the groin and abdomen.


Ice skating is one of the best winter activities for families. However, it is a strenuous activity for the body. If you pivot or turn wrong, it could cause a hernia to develop. If you fall, that can also trigger a hernia. Similarly, walking on ice poses a risk of falls, making it important to wear the right footwear and be extra vigilant while out.

Treating a sports hernia

Treatment for a sports hernia will depend upon its location and severity. If you have a mild hernia, you may just need to rest for a short period. However, most hernias do need to be treated as they don’t tend to go away by themselves.

In severe cases, the best form of treatment for a sports hernia is surgery. There are a couple of ways to carry out the procedure including endoscopic and open techniques. Mr Woodward can run through your options to determine which is right for you.

If you develop a hernia this winter, book a consultation with Mr Woodward. The sooner you seek treatment, the less likely you will be to suffer any serious complications.

Christmas should be a magical time, but for those with IBS, the festive season can be a nightmare. Many patients find their symptoms worsen during Christmas, putting a real dampener on celebrations.

If you suffer from IBS and you want to avoid being in pain and discomfort this Christmas, there are tips you can follow. Here, you’ll discover why the symptoms of IBS worsen over Christmas and how you can avoid uncomfortable flare-ups.

Why does Christmas cause IBS pain to worsen?

The main reason patients often experience worsening IBS symptoms over Christmas is dietary changes. Most of us overindulge during the festive season, devouring delicious Christmas treats and drinking increased levels of alcohol. Both of these things can trigger an IBS flare-up.

You will also likely change when you eat and drink. There is a tendency to graze throughout the day and indulge more during the evenings. The change from your usual eating and drinking habits can greatly exacerbate the symptoms of IBS.

How can I avoid IBS pain?

The good news is there are ways to avoid an IBS flare-up over Christmas. These include:

  • Avoiding certain foods
  • Don’t eat late in the evening
  • Increase your water intake
  • Stock up on medication
  • Avoid any triggers

Certain foods are known to trigger IBS flare-ups. These include broccoli, garlic, carbonated drinks, dairy foods, and alcohol. By avoiding these foods it’s going to prevent a flare-up from occurring. Likewise, you should avoid any triggers that you know of.

You’ll also want to ensure you don’t eat too late in the evening. If you are drinking alcohol, make sure you increase your water intake. Alcohol is well known to dehydrate the body, which can trigger the symptoms of IBS. A good rule of thumb is to drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume.

If you want to eliminate any symptoms you experience over Christmas, make sure you stock up on IBS medications. These include Antispasmodics and Antacids. The latter is great for treating indigestion and heartburn. Meanwhile, Antispasmodics help to ease tummy cramping and discomfort.

Seeking help for pain

Of course, the best way to avoid IBS pain this Christmas is to get the condition under control. Seeking professional help for IBS symptoms will reduce the risk of flare-ups. Your GP can determine what is causing the symptoms and recommend the best course of treatment to get them under control.

Mr Alan Woodward diagnoses and treats a range of Colorectal diseases. If you are struggling with IBS, book a consultation today. After an initial assessment, a diagnosis and treatment plan will be created to get your symptoms under control.

Acid reflux is a common condition that can cause a great deal of discomfort. Typically associated with various lifestyle factors, did you know it could also be a sign of a hernia?

Here, we will look at whether it could actually be a hernia and how you can effectively manage the symptoms.

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux, otherwise known as heartburn, produces a burning pain within the lower chest. It occurs when acid from the stomach travels back up into the food pipe. Everyone experiences bouts of heartburn throughout their lives. However, for some people, it never really goes away. If you have it more than twice each week, it is likely a sign of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

There are a number of reasons why acid reflux can develop. Those who are overweight, who smoke, are obese, or who take certain medications such as antidepressants and asthma drugs, are most at risk of acid reflux. But could it be a sign of a hernia too?

Can a hernia cause acid reflux?

There is a chance your persistent acid reflux could be down to a hiatal hernia. These occur in the upper part of the stomach, causing a bulge to push through the Diaphragm. The Hiatus is a small opening in the Diaphragm and the food pipe passes through it. When a hiatal hernia develops, it pushes the stomach up through the opening where it rests in the chest area.

If the hernia is quite small, it won’t typically cause any symptoms. However, if it is larger, it can cause acid and food to travel back up the pipe, leading to acid reflux. You can determine whether this is down to a hiatal hernia by watching out for the following symptoms:

  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Regurgitating food back into the mouth
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling full not long after you start eating

In serious cases, you may vomit blood or notice that you have black stools. In this instance, you should seek medical attention right away. It could point to gastrointestinal bleeding which could prove serious.

What treatment options are available?

To minimise the symptoms of a mild hernia, you can focus on changing your eating times, as well as losing weight. Ideally, you should avoid eating within 3-4 hours of going to bed. You should also try elevating the head while you sleep to minimise nighttime acid reflux.

If simple lifestyle changes don’t work, or if the hiatal hernia is quite large, surgery may be the best option. This will help to make the hernia smaller while reducing the risk of the hernia becoming strangulated.

If you suspect your acid reflux may be down to a hiatal hernia, book a consultation with Mr Alan Woodward today.

If you develop pain in your groin, it’s understandable you might be concerned. A lot of the time, groin pain is caused by a muscle sprain after lifting something heavy, or through vigorous exercising. However, there are times it may point to something else.

Groin pain is a common symptom of several types of hernia, including inguinal and femoral hernias. Here, you’ll discover more about the various types of hernia that may lead to groin pain, alongside other potential causes to be aware of.

Inguinal hernias

Inguinal hernias are the most common type you can develop. They occur mostly in men and are caused by fatty tissue or the intestines poking through the abdominal wall.

This type of hernia doesn’t always cause any noticeable symptoms. You may experience some level of pain when you sneeze, cough, or lift something heavy. There will also be a visible lump in the scrotum area.

Femoral hernias

Femoral hernias are most commonly found in women. They present as small lumps near the crease between the thigh and groin. Part of the intestines or fatty tissue pushes through a weakened wall of the femoral canal, causing the lump.

With this type of hernia, you may also fail to notice any symptoms. However, they do pose more of a risk of becoming strangulated. This can be potentially fatal, making it crucial to seek early treatment.

Both inguinal and femoral hernias can be successfully treated by Mr Woodward. Surgery is typically the best option for all hernias. This is because they don’t tend to get better by themselves.

Other potential causes of groin pain

Although hernias are one of the leading causes of groin pain, it could be a sign of something else entirely. In rare cases, groin pain could be a sign of the following conditions:

  • Kidney stones or kidney infection
  • UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)
  • Hip fracture or hip arthritis
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Prostatitis

Kidney stones can cause a lot of pain, particularly when you are passing them. If you notice blood in your urine alongside the pain, it could be a sign of a kidney infection. This is a serious condition that needs immediate treatment. Urinary Tract Infections may cause mild to moderate pain in the groin, alongside needing to urinate more frequently. They aren’t usually serious and may go away by themselves without treatment.

There are a lot of potential causes of groin pain, but most of the time it is down to a muscle strain or hernia. While hernias aren’t typically dangerous, when left untreated they can cause severe complications.

If you think a hernia may be the root cause of your groin pain, book a consultation with Mr Woodward today. After assessing you, he will recommend the best course of treatment.

Chronic Pancreatitis occurs when inflammation causes permanent damage to the pancreas. It is known to be a leading risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Therefore, those who are diagnosed with the condition will need to manage it closely.

Here, we will look at what chronic pancreatitis is, what causes it, and whether it is possible to prevent the condition.

What is chronic pancreatitis?

Chronic Pancreatitis is diagnosed when the pancreas is permanently inflamed. This is different to acute pancreatitis which is only short-term. It causes severe abdominal pain that may come and go but can last for hours or days. Situated behind the stomach, the pancreas is a small organ that creates enzymes needed for digestion. It is also responsible for helping to control the levels of sugar in the bloodstream.

Over time, chronic pancreatitis can cause permanent damage and scarring. It can also lead to the development of cysts and stones within the pancreas, blocking the tube or duct responsible for transporting the enzymes to the stomach. This can be a serious complication, requiring immediate treatment.

What causes it?

Chronic pancreatitis is known to have many causes. However, the majority are caused by alcohol abuse. Other potential causes include:

  • A narrowed pancreatic duct
  • Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Gallstones

If the pancreatic duct is narrow, it will be difficult for the juices and enzymes to pass through into the digestive system. This in turn can lead to inflammation, and over time chronic pancreatitis.

Hypertriglyceridemia relates to too much triglyceride fats in the blood. This, alongside excess levels of calcium, can cause inflammation. Sometimes, it may be down to an autoimmune disease, where the body attacks its own cells.

Another potential cause of chronic pancreatitis is gallstones. If they aren’t treated, they can block the pancreatic duct. This can be potentially serious, and treatment will be required as soon as possible.

These are just some of the main causes. The question is, can you prevent it?

Can you prevent chronic pancreatitis?

Not all cases can be prevented. However, there are ways to lower the risks. As most cases are caused by drinking excess amounts of alcohol, monitoring your consumption should be the first step.

Eating a healthy diet and going for regular checkups with the doctor can also help to prevent it. Keep the amount of fatty foods you eat to a minimum and keep an eye on your health for any signs of an underlying problem.

If you are diagnosed with gallstones, you should also seek treatment when you can. This involves removing the gallbladder, which the body doesn’t need for survival.

To find out more about treating gallstones, book a consultation with Mr Woodward today.

Hernias are a common condition that affects both men and women. There are different types of hernias you can develop, each varying in severity.

One of the more serious types is the femoral hernia. Affecting more women than men, these types of hernias pose a greater risk of complications. So, what is a femoral hernia and how are they treated? Learn everything you need to know below.

What is a femoral hernia?

Femoral hernias occur next to the public bone, where the thigh meets the abdomen. They mostly occur when fat pushes its way through a weakened wall in the femoral canal. Measuring around an inch in diameter, occasionally the lump may be caused by the bowel pushing through, not fat. This would be a lot more serious.

These types of hernias are considered more dangerous than the common Inguinal hernia. For that reason, they are typically treated quite quickly.

What complications can they cause?

The reason femoral hernias are considered more dangerous is down to the complications they can cause. The main one is that the hernia could become strangulated.

A strangulated femoral hernia can cut off the blood supply to the bowel. If it isn’t treated, this could be fatal. Over time, without oxygen, the tissue of the intestines will start to decay. When they eventually die, the body will shut down. That is why it is so essential to seek treatment immediately if a strangulated hernia is suspected.

The femoral hernia can also become incarcerated. This is where the hernia gets stuck within the femoral canal. It won’t be able to be simply pushed back into the abdomen.

Another potential complication is the hernia could become obstructed. This means it has become entangled with a part of the intestine. If you have this complication, it will likely be very painful.

These are some of the main complications you need to be aware of. Seeking treatment early will ensure you avoid these complications.

Symptoms to watch out for

To diagnose a femoral hernia quickly, it’s good to know what symptoms to look out for. Femoral hernias typically present the following symptoms:

  • A small lump in the lower groin area
  • The lump won’t usually disappear when you lay down
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea

These initial symptoms can be easy to miss alone. However, if they are accompanied by other symptoms on the list, it is a sign you may have a femoral hernia. In particular, if you notice a small lump, it should always get checked out to be on the safe side.

Treatment for a femoral hernia

A surgical procedure known as a hernia repair will be carried out to fix a femoral hernia. This can be performed using a keyhole or open method. Artificial mesh is used to help strengthen and support the weakened wall, preventing the hernia from recurring.

The best method to treat your femoral hernia will be determined during your consultation. It will depend upon the size of the hernia, alongside its severity. Book a consultation with Mr Woodward today.

In light of Stress Awareness Day which falls on November 3rd, we thought it fitting to cover the impact stress has on those living with IBD. Those suffering from Crohn’s Disease, in particular, are known to suffer from high levels of stress. This is often down to the unpredictability of flare-ups, and the impact it has on their daily lives.

If you are looking to help a loved one deal with the stress of Crohn’s Disease, below we reveal some of the best things you can do.

Provide support and encouragement

Living with Crohn’s Disease can be extremely challenging. Due to a lack of public understanding of the condition, many Crohn’s Disease sufferers can feel alone and unsupported. This can increase stress, greatly reducing quality of life.
Simply being there and offering non-judgemental support will mean the world to your loved one. However, it’s also important to make sure they have other support too. Having a wide support system can help make living with Crohn’s Disease a lot more bearable.

At times, you may need to provide encouragement too. There will be days when depression or anxiety kick in. A little gentle encouragement and support can help minimise any negative effects on a sufferer’s mental health.

Help them to get enough gentle exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to banish stress. However, for those living with Crohn’s, sometimes exercise can prove to be a little too much. While they may not be able to do as much, gentle exercise is highly recommended to help combat the signs of stress.

It could just be going for a short walk together. Getting out into the fresh air can do wonders for the mind and body. After a brief walk, those stress levels should be a little more manageable.

Understand they may have trouble with social gatherings

One of the biggest challenges for those living with Crohn’s Disease is maintaining a social life. As flare-ups can be difficult to predict, it can make socialising a lot more stressful than it should be. This in turn can lead to cancelled plans and avoiding making plans with friends altogether.

There will be times they need to cancel plans. Or they may need plans to change in order to be more comfortable. Understanding the difficulties that they face can help you to be more understanding. If they do have difficulty going out, why not arrange more nights in instead?

Encourage them to seek help

Living with Crohn’s Disease can be both mentally and physically draining. Many people living with IBD tend to experience many challenges to their mental health. Encouraging them to seek professional help is one of the best ways to support them.
You can also look into the different treatments available. There are lots of effective ways to manage Crohn’s Disease. By managing the condition, it will automatically help to reduce stress levels.

Book a consultation with Mr Woodward today.

Have you ever wondered what causes an outie belly button to form? Belly buttons come in a variety of types, and they feature either an ‘outie’ or an ‘innie’ look. While some people have one button from birth, others may develop one later in life.

So, what causes an outie belly button? Read on to learn how our belly buttons form and the main factors that can cause them to stick out…

How do belly buttons form?

The belly button is a constant reminder of where we came from. It is where the umbilical cord was attached, keeping us connected to our mother. After the umbilical cord is cut, it leaves behind a short stump. This eventually falls off to leave behind the belly button.

The way that the belly button appears isn’t down to your parents or the doctor who delivered you. Instead, it develops its looks mostly through chance.

What causes an outie belly button?

Outie belly buttons may be caused by how the skin grew as it healed after birth. However, they can also develop later in life. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of an outie belly button below.

Umbilical hernias

Umbilical hernias develop near or through the belly button. They typically occur when the hole left from the umbilical cord fails to close properly. This means that pregnant women are most at risk of developing this type of hernia after giving birth.
The good news is that most of these hernias do not require any form of treatment. However, you will have one until it disappears. If you suspect you have an umbilical hernia, it should still be checked over to determine if treatment will be required.

Underlying conditions

Sometimes, an outie belly button that develops in adulthood may be down to an underlying condition. Certain conditions can put pressure onto the belly button, triggering it to develop an outie appearance.

In rare cases, it can be caused by Ascites. This underlying condition causes fluid to build up within the Peritoneal cavity. It is typically caused by a disorder of the liver or kidneys. Hepatosplenomegaly is another underlying condition that can push the belly button outwards. It occurs due to an enlarged spleen or liver.

Can it be reversed?

In most cases, it will resolve itself when the underlying cause is addressed. However, if you were born with an outie belly button, there is a procedure you can undergo to turn it into an innie. It is known as an umbilicoplasty.
If you suspect that your outie belly button may be down to an Umbilical hernia, book a consultation today. Mr Woodward will help you to determine whether treatment is required, alongside a rundown of your options.

If you see blood after going to the toilet, it can understandably cause a lot of worry. Rectal bleeding may look alarming, but it isn’t necessarily serious.

Here, we will look at some of the leading causes of rectal bleeding and how to treat them…

Common causes of rectal bleeding

There are many potential causes of rectal bleeding. Understanding the most common causes will help you to determine whether you need to worry or not. Of course, it goes without saying that any signs of rectal bleeding should be checked out by a doctor. Below are some of the most common causes of bleeding from the rectum;


Haemorrhoids are one of the most common causes of rectal bleeding. The swollen veins may bleed under pressure, particularly when going to the toilet. You may notice blood in the toilet bowl, on your stools, or on toilet paper after relieving your bowels.

The bleeding will stop once the haemorrhoids have cleared up. While they may clear up by themselves, sometimes they may need to be removed. This can be done using a variety of techniques, but the Rafaelo procedure is considered one of the best. Mr Woodward was the first surgeon in Wales to offer this revolutionary procedure.


Another somewhat harmless cause of bleeding from the rectum is constipation. If you have constipation you are going to strain when you go to the toilet. The pressure placed upon the blood vessels around the rectum can cause them to burst. This results in a little bleeding after going to the toilet.

Treating your constipation will stop the bleeding. It also reduces the risk of developing haemorrhoids. You can try a lot of home remedies to help ease constipation including increasing your water intake, eating more fibre, exercising, and drinking coffee.


Blood, after you go to the toilet, can also point towards IBD. The conditions associated with IBD can cause a range of digestive issues. Patients often experience cramping, pain in the abdomen, and constipation. These issues can lead to rectal bleeding, though you should only notice a small amount of blood.

Getting your IBD symptoms under control will help to reduce the risk of bleeding from the rectum. A good tip is to cut out gluten from your diet as this is known to cause more frequent and severe flare-ups.

Anal or colon cancer

The most serious cause of bleeding from the rectum is cancer. It can be a sign of anal or colon cancer, though you will also likely have other symptoms too. Signs of anal cancer include abnormal discharge coming from the anus, a lump on the anal opening, and itching around the rectum.

As you can see, there are a lot of things that can cause bleeding from the rectum. It is crucial to get the cause checked out by a doctor, particularly if the bleeding is persistent. Once you have the cause diagnosed, you can then work on treating the problem.

Living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) isn’t fun. IBD causes unpleasant symptoms such as painful bloating, constipation, excess gas, and incontinence. It can be a frustrating journey trying to find the right treatment to manage the condition. However, according to one study, going gluten-free could be the answer.

So, could a gluten-free diet be the key to helping you manage your IBD? Here we’ll look at what the study found and how gluten links to Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Understanding the study

The study, published within the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases journal in 2014, showed two out of three people with IBD saw an improvement when switching to gluten-free. More specifically, 65.6% experienced an improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms. Additionally, 38.3% of patients reported a reduction in severe IBD flare-ups. Another benefit identified was a reduction in fatigue.

What is the link between gluten and IBD?

Gluten has long been known to link to issues with the digestive system. The protein is commonly found in foods like pasta, bread, and cakes. Processed foods also contain gluten, as do most of the foods we eat. The trouble is it can cause havoc for the gut.

For those with IBD, issues can arise from gluten if:

  • You have coeliac disease
  • You have underlying allergies or food sensitivity
  • The gut hasn’t adapted to new wheat

Coeliac disease is known as an autoimmune condition. Previous research has found that those who have the condition are nine times more likely to develop IBD. More specifically, those with Crohn’s disease are more likely to have Coeliac disease.
Another theory as to why those with IBD may have gluten sensitivity is the way wheat is grown today. To ensure it is hardier whilst it is growing, it now contains new proteins our guts may not be used to.

Gluten and its link to GI Distress

Gluten has been shown to lead to GI distress in some patients. This leads to unpleasant symptoms such as cramping, bloating, and abdominal distention.

Patients living with IBD experience GI distress when they eat specific foods. Gluten is often prevalent in foods that are known to trigger IBD flare-ups.

If you suffer from IBD, a gluten-free diet could help to relieve some of the nasty symptoms you experience. There have been a lot of studies carried out that show a link between gluten and IBD flare-ups. However, before you make any changes to your diet, it’s worth seeking medical advice to determine if you could be experiencing any underlying health issues.

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