What is a sports hernia?
A Sports Hernia (aka Athletic Pubalgia) is a painful condition caused by a strain or tear of the soft tissues in the groin area. There is usually not a detectable hernia by exam or by imaging, so it is considered by the medical community not to be a true hernia. However, due to the popularity of the term “Sports Hernia”, this condition is still referred to as such.
There is a complex anatomy of muscles, tendon, and bone that are affected by patients with Sports Hernia. This injury is commonly seen in athletes whose activity requires sudden change of directions, cutting movements, or twisting motions such as in ice hockey, soccer, wrestling, and football. Accurate diagnosis and the proper treatment algorithm are the keys to a successful recovery; therefore a Sports Hernia specialist should be consulted for evaluation, workup, and treatment.
A Sports Hernia typically presents with acute pain in the groin area, or pain that progressively worsens over time and is exaggerated by certain movements. Without proper treatment, this injury can lead to permanent inability to resume sports activities.
A Sports Hernia specialist will do a history and specialized exam in the office, and may order further tests such as MRI or bone scans to rule out other diagnoses.
The first phase of treatment for an acute Sports Hernia is rest. Resting helps the tissues in the injured area to begin to heal. Your Sports Hernia specialist may also recommend ice, and anti-inflammatory medication for several weeks.
The second phase of treatment for Sports Hernia typically involves 6-8 weeks of physical therapy, concentrating on strengthening and balancing the muscles in the area of injury.
If return to sports after successful completion of physical therapy results in continued or recurrent pain, surgical treatment may be indicated. Your Sports Hernia specialist will describe the procedure(s) indicated and discuss the associated recovery time necessary from surgery.
Properly diagnosed and treated, patients with Sports Hernias have ~90% long-term chance of being able to resume sports activities.