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Sports hernias can cause chronic groin pain but can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms resemble those of other conditions.

While traditional hernias often cause a bulge in the groin, sports hernias aren't visible, which can make the diagnosis more difficult.

Sports hernias usually affect young men who play sports with rapid direction changes and intense twisting movements, like hockey, soccer, wrestling or football. These hernias affect women much less often and are rare in children and older adults.

Sports Hernia Symptoms

Sports hernias usually cause immediate, severe pain. The pain often improves with rest but comes back when you resume activities with twisting movements. Most people have symptoms that include a combination of:

  • Vague groin pain on one or both sides
  • Dull, burning sensation
  • Pain radiating toward the scrotum and inner thigh

In some sports hernias, the tendons attaching the thigh muscles to the pubic bone are also stretched or torn. Without treatment, you may have chronic, disabling pain.

Diagnosing Sports Hernia

To diagnose sports hernia, your doctor will complete a history and physical exam, which include special tests to assess for a sports hernia. In addition, you may also have imaging tests such as X-ray, ultrasound, CT or MRI to detect injuries to the bone, nerves and soft tissue. Imaging tests are important because lower abdominal and groin injuries may cause pain in different places.

Sports Hernia Treatment

If you have mild to moderate symptoms, rest, ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen) and physical therapy can help relieve pain.

Sports Hernia Surgery

Surgery is necessary when there is a tear in the tissue and symptoms are still persistent even with non-operative treatment. Post-operative physical therapy will help you regain strength and endurance. More than 90 percent of patients who have nonsurgical treatment followed by surgery can return to sports activity 6 to 12 weeks after surgery.

Make an Appointment

To visit one of our sports medicine specialists, call 410-448-6400.

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