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Sports Hernias Symptoms & Treatment Options

Sports Hernia Groin and Pelvic Pain Institute

What Is a Sports Hernia?

A Sports Hernia, known as Athletic Pubalgia, is actually not a hernia at all. A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through an opening in the tissue or muscle which is holding the organ in place. In the case of “sports hernias,” the Rectus Abdominus muscle becomes inflamed, strained, or torn, typically due to an overuse of the muscle. In some cases, the rectus abdominus may become partially or totally detached from the pelvic bone, which causes chronic pain in the groin. Unfortunately, athletic pubalgia is often very difficult to diagnose, due to the fact that the rectus abdominus shares its insertion location with the Adductor Longus, and the same conditions may affect the adductor as well.

What Can Cause a Sports Hernia?

Sports hernias occur most often during sports that require sudden and quick changes of direction or intense twisting movements after planting your feet. These quick movements can cause tears in the soft tissue of the lower abdomen and groin. The sports that see the highest number of cases of sports hernias are football, ice hockey, soccer, and wrestling.

Sports Hernia Symptoms

An individual will usually be able to tell right away at the time of injury that something is wrong, as a sports hernia will cause severe pain. The pain may subside with rest, but will most likely return when you continue with the activity. Unlike regular hernias, such as an inguinal hernia, a sports hernia will not cause a visible bulge in the groin and pelvic region. However, if left untreated, a sports hernia has the potential to develop into an inguinal hernia, in which case the abdominal organs may press against the soft tissues and form a bulge.

Sports Hernia Treatment Options

If after being examined by a doctor it is determined that you have suffered a sports hernia, there are several treatment options to help you recover. In the days following your injury, it is imperative that you rest and ice the affected area. Compressions may help to alleviate some of the pain if you do notice a slight bulge.

In the weeks following, you can begin to do physical therapy exercises to help strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility. To diminish any pain or swelling, you can take anti-inflammatory and pain medications such as ibuprofen. If, however, your pain and other symptoms persist over a longer period, with no indication of subsiding, your doctor may recommend a cortisone injection. After four to six weeks of physical therapy and rest, individuals should be able to return to their everyday activities or whatever sport initially caused the injury. Should you return to your normal routine and the pain returns, it may be time to consider surgery in order to repair the damage.

Surgery can repair the torn tissue of a sports hernia, or in extreme cases, fix the issues caused by the sports hernia having developed into an inguinal hernia. Following surgery, most patients are able to return to sports after about six to twelve weeks. There are some instances in which the tissues may tear again, and additional surgery is required.

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