What is a Sports Hernia?
‘Sports hernia’ is a term used to describe an injury to the muscle or tendon in the lower abdomen or groin region where it attaches onto the pubic bone. Although the name can be misleading, this type of injury does not involve the bulge associated with typical hernias.
This type of injury is more common in males, and it is often acquired in sporting activities that involve planting the feet and twisting or over-stretching of the trunk and hip with maximal exertion. Kicking a ball, taking a slap shot, skating or sprinting are examples of this type of movement.
Sports hernias are usually quite painful immediately following injury. The pain is localized over the groin area and it is made worse with sporting activities and relieved by rest. There is no visible or palpable bulge in the groin with a sports hernia.
If you suspect you might have a sports hernia, a registered physiotherapist can conduct a physical examination to help determine if this is the case. They will do a number of tests to check for pain and weakness with resisted hip and trunk flexion, and they will also check for tenderness of the lower abdominals and hip musculature. After the physical examination, the physiotherapist may refer you to a doctor to get diagnostic imaging done to help determine the nature and severity of the injury.
Generally the initial treatment for a sports hernia is rest and physiotherapy. Physiotherapists at this stage can guide you through exercises aimed at improving the strength and flexibility of the injured area. They can also use anti-inflammatory modalities such as ice and ultrasound to help with tissue healing. If these measures do not relieve your symptoms, then surgery is generally indicated. Surgery for this type of injury is often very successful, and a physiotherapist can guide you through a rehabilitation program aimed at returning you to your chosen sport.
Written By: Reanna Montopoli, FCAMPT Physiotherapist