A sports hernia is a painful, soft tissue injury that occurs in the groin area and is due to sudden changes of direction or intense twisting movements during sports. The soft tissues most frequently affected are the oblique muscles in the lower abdomen. The tendons that attach the oblique muscles to the pubic bone are especially vulnerable and are usually stretched or torn in a sports hernia.
You will experience severe pain in the inner groin area at the time of the injury which typically gets better with rest but comes back when you return to sports that require twisting movements.
A sports hernia does not usually cause a visible bulge in the groin, although over time the weakened abdominal musculature but may progress to an inguinal hernia, resulting in a visible bulge, especially with coughing, and straining.
The most common cause of sports hernia is when athletes plant their feet and twist with maximum exertion, causing a tear in the soft tissue of the lower abdomen or groin. This occurs mainly in vigorous sports such as ice hockey, soccer, wrestling, and football.
Your orthopaedic specialist will start off with finding out more about how you sustained the injury, followed by a physical examination to find tenderness in the groin or above the pubis, and be asked to do a sit-up or flex your trunk against resistance to identify any pain. You may also be required to undergo an X-ray or MRI scan for an accurate diagnosis.
Adductor muscle tears
The hip adductors are a group of three muscles located in the inner thigh that originate from the pubic bone and move the thigh inwards. They can be injured during sudden muscle contraction following changes in direction during sports or explosive action, e.g, soccer, basketball, sprinting, high jumping etc. Since the pain is commonly felt in the inner groin area, adductor muscle tears can present like sports hernias. MRI will usually confirm the diagnosis and pinpoint the site and severity of the tear.
Non-surgical treatments such as having adequate rest and activity modification, and taking anti-inflammatory medications can reduce the symptoms, and allow recovery. Physical therapy is useful to initially stretch the injured abdominal or adductor muscles and scar tissue to maintain flexibility, and subsequently, strengthening exercises are added to restore muscle strength. In higher grade tears, platelet rich plasma injections can be considered for adductor tears to potentially speed up the healing process.
Surgical repair of the torn muscles or soft tissue is offered with failure of conservative treatment, especially in high grade tears, in active individuals. The repair can be performed through minimally invasive approaches (endoscopy), although open procedures may be required in chronic or large tears.
Every case is different; hence it is best to consult an orthopaedic specialist for an accurate diagnosis so that you can obtain the best treatment option that is most suitable for you. Reach out to us today if you suspect you are suffering from a sports hernia and let us help you enjoy a better quality of life.