Info for Athletes With Groin Pain That May Be Sports Hernia
Sports Hernia: A Source of Groin Pain
Groin pain is a common complaint among athletes. 5-20% of all sports injuries to athletes involve groin pain. Groin pain is a challenging problem because of the long list of injuries in the groin that share similar symptoms. The athlete is often given the diagnosis of a groin strain, and is told to rest. While this may be sufficient some of the time, if the athlete’s groin pain doesn’t resolve in a reasonable period of time, the athlete may have a sports hernia.
The most intriguing cause of groin pain in athletes is athletic pubalgia — commonly referred to as sports hernia. First described as Gilmore’s Groin in 1980, then Sportsman’s Groin in 1992, sports hernia has evolved as a layman’s term. Sports hernia symptoms include groin pain along the low abdomen where the abdominal muscles connect with the pelvis and leg. Unlike a true hernia, there is no bulging. A sports hernia is a tear or weakness in these muscles.
Unlike most sports injuries that can be diagnosed easily, there are no diagnostic tests to detect a sports hernia. A misdiagnosis by a doctor unfamiliar with sports hernia symptoms can lead to chronic groin pain and unnecessary delay in returning to athletic competition. It is best diagnosed by a specialist familiar with sports hernia who treats athletes with groin pain on a regular basis. Do you have sports hernia? At the bottom of this page, we list sports hernia symptoms.
You are welcome to ask questions about sports hernia and receive an answer from an expert sports hernia surgeon, Dr. Jeffery Hoadley.
Sports Hernia Surgeon Jeffrey S. Hoadley
Doctor Hoadley consults as an expert in groin pain with the NFL Atlanta Falcons, NHL Atlanta Thrashers, University of Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and, most recently, the Atlanta Braves. Sports hernia surgery is one of Dr. Hoadley’s specialties. He has had the opportunity to treat professional, collegiate and recreational athletes from the Southeast. Dr. Jeffery Hoadley graduated as a Doctor of Medicine from the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1989. Dr. Hoadley served his residency in general surgery at the Emory University Affiliated Hospital. Since 1995, Dr. Hoadley has served as a staff member at Saint Joseph’s Hospital and at the Northside Hospital in Atlanta. Dr. Hoadley has always enjoyed sport. He lettered in football and basketball in high school. He played rugby at Vanderbilt University and later, with the Atlanta Renegades RFC. Currently, he is a participant and level 1 certified trainer for CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program used by athletes worldwide. Read more about Dr. Hoadley.
Ask the Doctor about Groin Pain
Dr. Hoadley answers your questions about sports hernia and groin pain.
Listen to Dr. Hoadley Explain Sports Hernia to Sportcaster Dan Patrcik
- What were you doing when you were injured? Sports hernias usually occur during aggressive turning and twisting while playing sports like football, hockey, soccer, tennis, track or running.
- Sports hernia results in sudden groin pain in the low abdomen and upper inner leg.
- The groin pain improves with rest and anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, but often recurs when you resume playing your sport.
- Often the leg pain resolves but the athlete is left with persistent discomfort in the low abdominal muscles at the pelvis.
- Sports hernia occurs in women and men. In men the pain can sometimes cause the testicles to ache.
If you think you may have sports hernia, read how the doctor diagnoses sports hernia.
Diagnosing sports hernia can be difficult unless the doctor has a wealth of experience treating athletes who have groin pain. Sports hernia is the most unique and misunderstood cause of groin pain, and not all doctors recognize sports hernia symptoms. For this reason, experience counts.
How does a specialist like Doctor Hoadley determine if your groin pain is a result of sports hernia? You can read in depth about how sports hernia is diagnosed but here’s a brief summary:
- An in depth discussion about how the sports injury occurred. Sports hernia has a unique mechanism of injury.
- Physical exam focusing on the groin area, upper leg, and lower abdomen.
- Ordering appropriate x-ray studies to rule out causes of groin pain other than sports hernia.
If you have chronic groin pain that is diagnosed as sports hernia, how is your condition treated? You can read about sports hernia treatment on another page, but here is a brief summary. Four to six weeks of physical therapy is a first step in sports hernia treatment. If the athlete cannot return to playing his sport without groin pain, then sports hernia surgery may be required. Sports hernia surgery repairs affected muscles and tendons and a thin surgical mesh is applied to give support. Sports hernia surgery is an outpatient procedure. Postoperative rehabilitation following sports hernia surgery involves walking on a treadmill for twenty minutes a day. Motivated athletes can achieve 100% ability to play their sport in 4-6 weeks, although for some 8-10 weeks of rehab is required.
Sports Hernia Terminology
Sports hernia was first recognized in 1980 by Dr. Jerry Gilmore of London, England, following his successful treatment of three professional English footballers who had been unable to play for many months because of undiagnosed injuries resulting in groin pain.
Although some people refer to this groin injury as a sportmen’s hernia, there is no true hernia or bulging present. The repair technique later became known as Gilmore’s Groin. Athletic pubalgia is the medical term used by most doctors, but the more common term used by athletes and athletic trainers is sports hernia.