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Is There Any Way to Prevent a Sports Hernia?

Is There Any Way to Prevent a Sports Hernia?

If you’re a high-performance athlete playing a sport that involves forceful and frequent twisting, turning, and pivoting, you could end up among the 5% of athletes who experience a sports hernia every year. 

This condition can make any physical motion — even simple movements, like sneezing and coughing — extremely painful. At Anthony Echo, MD, FACS, with multiple offices in Houston, Texas, our board-certified surgeon helps athletes get back in the game faster using the innovative Muschaweck Repair procedure and adductor longus repairs. 

But Dr. Echo also understands that preventing a sports hernia is a far-better alternative to sustaining this painful sports injury. Keep reading to learn more about sports hernias and how you can prevent one from developing.   

What is a sports hernia?

Unlike other inguinal hernias, which develop when an internal organ, like your intestines, pushes through your lower abdominal wall, a sports hernia is a soft tissue injury in your groin area. Male athletes playing high-impact sports involving the lower body experience sports hernias far more often than female athletes, but anyone in any sport can develop the condition. 

You get a sports hernia when the abdominal muscles in your inguinal floor, the area in your lower abdomen made of muscle and tendon, become weak or overused. This can cause these tendons to stretch or tear, resulting in a sports hernia.      

Symptoms of a sports hernia vary in severity and may include:

Because other conditions can cause similar symptoms, it’s important to seek a medical diagnosis. Sports hernias rarely heal on their own without some type of treatment, like physical therapy, corticosteroids, or surgery.  

Can I avoid a sports hernia?

If you play a sport that involves repetitive twisting or turning in the pelvic area, like football, hockey, soccer, or wrestling, be sure to take these preventive steps to support your muscles and reduce stress on your tissues and organs:

If you’re starting a new exercise, sport, or position, you can avoid a sports hernia by starting out slowly and ramping up over time. 

What’s the best treatment for a sports hernia?

Before treatment for a sports hernia begins, it’s important to receive an accurate diagnosis of your condition. Your evaluation begins with a review of your medical history, current symptoms, when the injury occurred, and a physical exam.

Because sports hernias differ from other hernias, which usually cause a bulge in your abdomen or groin, Dr. Echo may order an imaging study to look at the internal tissues and/or rule out other possible causes of your symptoms, such as:

Your personalized treatment plan depends on many factors, including your age, the severity of your injury, whether you plan to return to your sport, and at what level. Treatment may include conservative therapies and/or surgical procedures.  

Dr. Echo is one of only a handful of US surgeons trained and experienced in using the Muschaweck Repair technique, a minimally invasive surgery that strengthens your inguinal floor while decompressing the nerves in your groin pain. 

This cutting-edge technique uses an open approach to fully visualize the defect while protecting the nerves.  The muscles are not over-tighten, so you recover faster and don’t lose sexual sensation after your procedure. And because this suture-only technique doesn’t require a mesh, your body returns to its original configuration.  

For more information about preventing a sports hernia or to set up a sports hernia consultation, schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Anthony Echo, MD, in Houston.

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