Sports Hernia, also known as Athletic Pubalgia is a condition of overuse injury caused by excessive strain on the muscles and tendons of the lower abdomen or groin area. It is common in athletes who participate in sports such as soccer, hockey, football, and tennis. Click here to locate our Sports Hernia Clinic.
The major symptom is chronic debilitating pain in the lower abdomen or groin area that is aggravated by activities and is relieved by rest. There is no visible bulge or swelling beneath the skin with sports hernia.
The diagnosis of sports hernia is based on the patient’s personal history, comprehensive physical examination, and diagnostic test results. Your doctor may order a MRI scan to rule out other causes of pain.
The treatment options vary depending upon the severity of injury and include:
- Rest: Avoid activities that worsen the symptoms.
- Ice: Applying ice over the injured area may help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Medications: Your doctor may prescribe NSAIDs to relieve pain and make you feel comfortable.
- Physical therapy exercises to improve the strength and flexibility of the affected muscles.
Surgery is indicated only when the conservative treatment measures fail to relieve the symptoms. Arthroscopic or traditional open technique may be employed to repair the deteriorated muscle or tendon of the lower abdomen or groin area.
Surgery is indicated only when the conservative treatment measures fail to reduce the symptoms. Sports hernia can be treated surgically with an open or laparoscopic technique under general anesthesia. The laparoscopic mesh repair is the most widely used technique. The benefits of laparoscopy are smaller incisions, faster healing, a more rapid recovery, shorter rehabilitation period, and less scarring. Laparoscopic surgical procedures are often performed on an outpatient basis and the patient is able to return home on the same day.
Under general anesthesia, the surgeon makes small incisions in the groin area. It is much less traumatic to the muscles, ligaments and tissues than the traditional open technique with long incisions.In one incision, a laparoscope is introduced to view the muscles, nerves, and tendons. The other portal is used for the insertion of surgical instruments for repair of the injured muscles/tendon. A polypropylene mesh is inserted to strengthen the abdominal wall. At the end of the procedure, the incisions are closed with sutures.
Post-surgical guidelines include
- Your doctor will prescribe medications to relieve pain
- Appling ice-packs wrapped in a towel over the operated area for about 20 minutes, 3-4 times a day helps reduce post-operative swelling
- Your surgeon will develop a rehabilitation program following surgery to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles
- Return to sports once you feel comfortable and a follow-up appointment should be scheduled 8-10 days after surgery to examine your progress
The complication of surgery is inguinal nerve damage due to the pressure exerted by the mesh.