What is a sports hernia?

Most hernia surgeons refer to a sports hernia as inguinal pubalgia or athletic pubalgia, as it is not technically a hernia. A hernia occurs when abdominal contents protrude through a defect in the abdominal wall, but a sports hernia does not involve any contents leaving the abdominal cavity. The consensus of most hernia surgeons is that a sports hernia is a musculoskeletal injury that occurs as a result of a sport. Most patients present with groin or lower abdominal pain that is made worse with exercise. Patients often feel discomfort at night and do not have an inguinal hernia on physical examination.

Current treatment recommendation for sports hernia is aggressive physical therapy to treat the injury and correct any core muscle imbalance that caused the injury. If physical therapy is unsuccessful after 6 months, then surgery is occasionally recommended, though no single approach as been shown to be better than any other approach. We often work with our sports medicine colleagues to make the decision to proceed with surgery, as the injury we are treating is orthopedic in nature.