A sports hernia occurs when there is a weakening in the abdominal wall. The weakening eventually leads to a tear in the muscles or tissues. This tearing causes a sports hernia. Hockey, soccer, rugby players and track/field athletes are the most susceptible to a sports hernia.
Symptoms vary, but may include, abdominal pain, pain on one side of the lower abdomen and an increase of pain during certain activities such as coughing, sneezing, running or kicking. Groin pain also coincides with a sports hernia. Pain in testicles can result.
Unlike many other sport-related injuries, there are no specific tests to diagnose a sports hernia. However, there are some tests that can be performed to rule out other conditions that may cause groin pain — an MRI is an example. In most circumstances, a health care provider will perform a physical and take into consideration a patient's history. If a patient is an athlete and has the symptoms listed above, then a doctor will be more inclined to diagnose the issue as a sports hernia.
The first step to treatment is the ceasing of activities that cause pain. The next step is to implement anti-inflammatory medicines (ibuprofen, for instance) along with an icing regimen (placing ice on the area in question for 20 to 30 minutes three to four times per day). Doing this may decrease the pain. Sports hernia symptoms may take a few weeks to several months to go away. Severe cases may require surgery.
Surgery entails cutting open the abdominal wall and releasing and reattaching connective tissues. In some cases, hip muscles are loosened. This is a very invasive surgery requiring a large incision. A new surgery is being developed and used; it is called a laparoscopic surgery. It involves three small incisions and the use of special telescopic lenses to view the damage. This allows the doctor to treat the hernia without unnecessary invasion. However, this surgery is in the early stages of use, and therefore it may be more difficult to find surgeons who perform this operation.
If you suspect you may have a sports hernia, contact your health care provider for treatment. Until diagnoses and consultation with a doctor, reduce activities that irritate or cause pain in the area where a hernia is suspected; this could prevent further injury, leading to a speedier recovery. Symptoms can be misleading — what looks like a sports hernia may be another issue, so it is important not to self diagnose. Consulting a doctor can exclude other issues, help reduce symptoms and facilitate healing.