Sports Hernia (Athletica Pubalgia)

Motions associated with certain sports and athletic activities can cause sports hernias. This condition also is known as athletic pubalgia. The injury is marked by severe pain in the groin area at the time of injury. Although the pain may subside with rest, it usually returns when sports activity is resumed. Those affected by sports hernias typically do not present with a visible bulge, as often occurs with a traditional hernia. However, over time a sports hernia can develop into a more traditional hernia with the characteristic bulge that results from the abdominal organs pressing against the weakened soft tissues of the abdomen. The tissues most often involved in sports hernia episodes are the oblique muscles, which are located in the lower portion of the abdomen. The tendons that attach the obliques to the pubic bone are at especially high risk. Often, the tendons that connect the pubic bone to the thigh muscles also gets stretched or torn. Sports hernias typically occur in athletes who play sports that involve foot-planting and body twisting (e.g., hockey, soccer, wrestling, and football). If not treated, sports hernias can result in chronic, debilitating pain. Treatment of this condition includes rest, physical therapy to improve strength and flexibility in the abdominal and thigh muscles, and in severe cases, surgery.