A truss in medicine is usually a pad or tightly stretched material worn over a hernia to prevent it from enlarging and to provide support. After a hernia is removed, a truss may still be worn for a time after the surgery in order to prevent the area from creating a new hernia. Truss can be used as a noun or verb. To truss something is support or brace with a truss.
A truss needs to be carefully fitted, applied, and may not be used with all hernias. With a small hernia, a truss can be worn before surgery, but frequently when a hernia is large, size must be reduced prior to wearing a truss. There is potential risk in using trusses, since if they are too tight or the hernia is too large, there is danger in cutting off blood supply to the herniated area, which is called a strangulated hernia. The herniated area still requires a ready supply of oxygenated blood in order to keep all parts of it healthy and alive.
A truss can often promote greater comfort or support when worn over a small hernia. Yet, it’s important that a doctor make the decision whether or not you should use one. Furthermore, if wearing the truss causes pain you should contact your physician immediately. This can mean you have a strangulated hernia, or that the truss is simply being worn too tightly.
For best results, the truss needs to be worn directly against the skin, and usually only during the day while you pursue normal activities. On occasion, a person with a bad cough may need to use the truss while sleeping, since coughing can aggravate the hernia. Usually, though, support of the hernia is less required during sleeping because you are in a supine, or lying down, position.
While trusses are available over the counter, it is recommended that they be obtained by prescription and specifically measured for each individual patient to ensure a proper fit. Measuring may take place at a doctor’s office or by a in a pharmacist's private room. Only certain types of hernias are trussed, and usually trusses are only recommended for those awaiting hernia surgery or those who have already undergone a hernia removal surgery.
There are two common types of trusses. The first is an elastic belt that can be adjusted in order to provide the appropriate fit. The disadvantage to this first type is that the elastic can wear out over time. The second type, the spring truss, is not elastic and is closed via a metal spring. Many find the elastic band truss more comfortable since the elastic provides a little “give.” The elastic truss is the most commonly worn type in the US.