Have you ever played football, soccer, or tennis before? Have you ever twisted or turned quickly and felt pain in the groin area? If you’ve answered yes to one of these questions, then listen up because sports hernia could affect you.
Sports hernia, also known as athletic pubalgia or hockey hernia, is a strain or tear of the soft tissue surrounding your lower abdomen or groin area. More specifically, the tendons attaching the oblique muscles of your abdomen to your pubic bone are especially vulnerable to tears. A tear results from amount of overuse and stress on the groin muscles. Because sports hernia is caused by repetitive and forceful twisting and turning at high speed, this type of injury is most common in athletes who play high-impact sports, such as ice hockey or football.
The symptoms of sports hernia include severe pain in the groin area and impairment of movement that may prevent you from playing sports. The pain usually gets better after rest but can return when you resume playing sports. A common misconception is that sports hernia can cause a bulge in your groin, but this is false. However, because of the weakened abdominal and groin muscles, a sports hernia may make you more vulnerable for an inguinal hernia, where intestinal tissue bulges through abdominal or groin muscles.
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Treatment comes in two types, nonsurgical and surgical. For nonsurgical, initial treatment includes resting and icing the injured area. After two weeks, physical therapy exercises may help strengthen the abdominal and groin muscles. If the pain is very severe, anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can offer relief. If after a month of physical therapy and symptoms aren’t improving, surgery will be required. Surgery can be done traditionally with one long incision or using smaller incisions and a small camera, which is called an endoscopic procedure. Most athletes make a full recovery after 6-12 weeks and resume sports.
Ways to prevent injury include adequately resting your body after playing sports and wearing properly fitted gear such as groin protectors. Also, increasing flexibility by thoroughly stretching before and after playing is important. Lastly, strengthening your groin and abdominal muscles by working out and conditioning can help.
If you’re someone who plays sports often, be wary of sports hernia, and remember to wear the right protective gear and stretch and strengthen your groin muscles. If you do get injured, remember, resting is the best form of medicine.
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