Do I Have a Sports Hernia?

Sports hernia” describes a soft tissue injury in your groin. Repetitive or strenuous twisting in the hips is the most likely cause, and it’s a common injury in athletes playing football, ice hockey, and other aggressive sports.

Symptoms mimic those of a traditional abdominal hernia, but sports hernias aren’t actually hernias. Abdominal hernias develop when abdominal muscles separate and internal organs begin to push outward, but a sports hernia is a strained or torn muscle, ligament, or tendon.

The medical term for a sports hernia is athletic pubalgia. This type of injury often ranges in severity, but one thing is true: Suffering a sports hernia can quickly put you on the sidelines.

Anthony Echo, MD, and his team in Houston, Texas, are here to help you get back in the game. If you think you could have a sports hernia, it’s time to learn more about common symptoms and what to do about it.

Who is at risk for a sports hernia?

Sports hernias are often caused by repetitive or abrupt motion that strains or tears the soft tissues in your groin. 

There are many different muscles, ligaments, and tendons connecting your legs to your abdomen, but the oblique muscles in your lower abdomen are particularly susceptible to this type of injury.

When you twist or strain during a game, the tendons connecting your oblique muscles to your public bone may be stretched too far. The tendons connecting your thigh muscles to your pubic bone may also stretch or tear.

Activities that require you to plant your feet and twist your body put you at greatest risk for a sports hernia. A few of the sports that may put you at risk for a sports hernia include:

Even though the condition is nicknamed “sports hernia,” it isn’t reserved for athletes alone. Anytime you engage in twisting or explosive motions, you could suffer a sports hernia.

Symptoms of a sports hernia

The most common symptom of a sports hernia is intense pain in your lower abdomen or groin when the injury occurs. A sports hernia is often painful enough to force you to stop your activity. Pain may disappear with rest, but it typically returns when you go back to playing. 

You might experience tenderness or bruising around your upper thigh or lower abdomen. Pain may come and go, and be aggravated by twisting movements or deep abdominal engagement, such as with situps or coughing.

In some cases, a sports hernia can weaken the muscles in your lower abdominal area and lead to a traditional hernia. Traditional hernias often have a visible bulge where soft tissue protrudes through the muscle wall, but sports hernias do not.

Without proper care, a sports hernia may not heal on its own. If you suspect you have an injury, seek a diagnosis and treatment from a professional. Common treatments for sports hernias include:

More severe strains and tears may require surgery.

Never ignore an injury. Getting the right treatment can prevent complications and get you back on the field or on the ice sooner. Call one of our Houston, Texas, offices or request an appointment online today.

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