Sports hernia is probably the most overlooked sports-related injury that affects professional and college level athletes. In layman’s language, sports hernia is an injury that occurs in groin muscles due to repetitive twisting and turning at high speed. It is a painful injury and mainly occurs in people who play sports that require intense twisting movements such as ice hockey, soccer, wrestling and tennis. Before the pain interrupts your training session and impacts your competitiveness, this brief read gives you an insight into the problem, to help you understand the symptoms, treatment, and prevention.
Unlike other inguinal hernia, sports hernia doesn’t occur in the form a visible bulge, making it difficult to identify just by looking at the affected area. Instead, chronic groin pain is a hallmark symptom of sports hernia. It may start with a less intense pain that becomes severe with intense kicking, sprinting, twisting, and cutting. The pain may subside with proper rest, but recurs with further engagement in sporting activities. If left untreated for long, the chronic pain can prevent you from participating in sport forever. Other symptoms of sports hernia include:
- Lower abdomen area sensitivity to touch
- Minimal or no pain in the groin area when resting, sitting, or sleeping
- Pain that radiates in the inner thigh
- Pain when performing abdominal sit ups
Non-surgical Treatment : Physical therapy
The key issue in sports hernia is poor hip strength and a reduced ability to activate or turn abdominal muscles to stabilize the pelvis. Physical therapy can address the issue without aggravating the pain. When undergoing physical therapy, your physical therapist may advise you to avoid:
- Aggressive and painful stretching
- Stretching the upper body
In addition, a comprehensive physical therapy treatment includes icing and compression, stretching, muscle retraining, strengthening, manual therapy, and return-to-sport-drills. In most cases, 4-6 weeks of physical therapy solve the problem allowing athletes to return to their respective sports. Nonetheless, if the pain resurrects, your therapist may ask you to consider surgery to repair the torn tissue. In some cases, doctors also recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce the swelling and pain.
There are two ways to go about the surgical treatment of sports hernia- traditional treatment with one long incision or an endoscopic procedure that entails small skin incisions and use of a camera called endoscope to see inside the abdomen. No matter the procedure you choose, the end benefit of both procedures is the same.
Can sports hernia be prevented?
It is difficult to completely prevent sports hernia because of the very nature of several sports and the strain placed on the pelvis and hips. Nonetheless, there are certain preventive measures that reduce the risk of sports hernia in players of sports such as soccer, hockey, and football. The measures include:
- Abdominal and core stabilization exercises.
- Strengthening the hip adductor muscles.
- Exercises to reduce the intensity of stress across the pelvis and lower abdominal area, a potential spot for sports hernia injury.
- A proper warmup and cool down activity before and after workout.
- Include activities such as yoga and pilates to make your body more flexible.
- Maintain a healthy weight as even a few extra pounds can place stress on your joints.
The Bottom Line
Working under an experienced trainer is a must if you are into any vigorous sporting activities. If you notice any sports hernia type symptoms, immediately consult your doctor before the problem takes a turn for the worse. In case the need for surgery arises, visit a surgeon to consult and discuss everything before signing on the dotted lines. To find a reputable surgeon, use relevant keywords to search the internet. For example, if you are need hernia specialists in Perth, type ‘sports hernia surgery Australia’, to get options.