Sports hernia (Athletic pubalgia)

Symptoms | Causes | Diagnosis | Treatment | Recovery

What is a sports hernia (athletic pubalgia)?

A sports hernia is a painful injury of the soft tissue that occurs in the groin area. It is most common in sports that require sudden change in direction or explosive spinning movements. Although a sports hernia can lead to a traditional inguinal hernia, this is another type of injury. A sports hernia is a strain or tear of a tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament) in the lower abdomen or in the groin area.

sports hernia

Sports hernias usually occur where the abdominal muscles and adductors attach to the pubic bone. Normal inguinal hernias occur in the inguinal canal.

Symptoms of a sports hernia

A sports hernia causes a lot of pain in the groin area. The pain is usually subsides with rest, but comes back during exercise, especially with rotating movements. Contrary to what is common in the case of an inguinal hernia, a sports hernia does not cause a visible protrusion (bulge) in the groin. Over time, a sports hernia can lead to a normal inguinal hernia by which abdominal organs or fat tissue can press against the weakened tissues and form a visible protrusion (bulge) in the groin or lower abdomen.

Without treatment, a sports hernia can result in chronic, disabling pain that prevents you from exercising.

What causes a sports hernia?

As the name says, a sports hernia is usually caused by sport. Especially sports activities where you plant your feet on the ground and run or turn explosively, can cause a rupture in the tissue of the abdomen or groin.

A sports hernia is especially common in sports with explosive movements such as football, tennis, athletics, hockey and martial arts.

Diagnosis of a sports hernia

During your first appointment, our surgeon will talk to you about your symptoms and discomforts. During the physical examination by the doctor he or she will probably find sensitivity in the groin or above the pubis. Although the symptoms of a sports hernia are very similar to a traditional inguinal hernia, in most cases a physician can not find an inguinal hernia during a physical examination. 


MRI scan
If it is not possible to determine 100% whether it is a sports hernia, the doctor can ask you to make an MRI scan.

Treatment for a sports hernia

Strength training
An operation is only recommended in more severe cases. In many cases it makes more sense to follow a training program first. By reinforcing the ‘core stability’, pain symptoms from a sports hernia can be drastically reduced. Never start training yourself, because some exercises can make your complaints worse. If you want more information about doing the right exercises, you can visit our surgeon in London.

An operation
In patients with severe pain complaints an operation can help, we often use the non-mesh Minimal Repair Method of Dr. Muschaweck. We NEVER repair a sports hernia, using a plastic mesh. Although the symptoms are very similar to those of a normal inguinal hernia, there is no weakening to repair in a sports hernia. It is therefore not logical to use a plastic mesh in this case.

Recovery after a sports hernia repair

After the operation, the surgeon will make a rehabilitation schedule together with you. Certain exercises can benefit the recovery and ensure that the symptoms never come back. It takes 4 to 6 weeks to fully recover.

recovery & after care

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