Sports hernia is a widely used term mainly for describing pain that is experienced in the lower abdominal region. It is a soft tissue injury to the groin area that is painful. Athletes usually injure the hernia due to sudden changes in direction during high impact sports which require lots of twisting movements. Quite simply, a sports hernia injury is a tear of either the muscle, ligament or tendon at the abdomen or groin region. As mentioned above due to its widely used nature, medical practitioners prefer using the name "athletic pubalgia" to describe this injury.
There are many widespread theories as to how a sports hernia is formed. However, the most common one is due to overuse of the muscles in the abdominal and groin region, causing it to tear after some time. This can be accelerated if sudden and quick movements are involved such as twisting and turning. In fact, some people tear the muscles during sit-ups, resulting in the inability to lift their body up.
Sports hernia will result in severe pain at the groin region once the injury is sustained. The pain will go away slightly after a period of rest but will resurface immediately during sports activities again. It will get more serious if the activity requires twisting movements. Unlike inguinal hernia, athletic pubalgia does not cause bulging to occur in the groin. However, athletic pubalgia can develop into an inguinal hernia over time as the abdominal organs press against the weakened tissues and cause a bulge to develop.
In order to diagnose sports hernia more accurately, a thorough physical examination is required. A trained and experienced doctor will invert the scrotum and place his little finger in each of the inguinal rings. In positive cases, the ring will be dilated on the injured side. Further diagnostic tests such as MRI, CT scan and Ultrasound will also be carried out. However, a proper diagnosis is still a difficult and tedious task due to the extreme similarity between sports hernia and a groin pull. Diagnosis will often be the case of trial and error and elimination based on the descriptions provided by the patient. Diagnostic tools are only able to help better eliminate the possibility of other injuries being present.
The usage of protective sports gear may help to prevent the chances of one getting sports hernia and another effective way is through strengthening of the abdominal muscles so that they can provide better support to the area.