Sports Hernia

What is a ‘Sports Hernia’?

The term sports hernia is a misnomer because it is not a true hernia. A sports hernia is actually an injury to the core muscle of the abdomen and legs. This injury causes chronic groin pain, especially with strenuous physical activities. The medical term for this condition is Athletic Pubalgia.

The most common symptom is pain in the groin area that does not go away with rest. Most people do not have a sentinel event, meaning a sudden injury. The injury often occurs slowly over time. The majority of patients are quite physically fit, but it can occur in anyone who injures his/her core musculature.

What are the Core Muscles?

The abdominal muscles and adductor muscles in the legs make up the core muscles. These are the muscles that push and pull on the groin or pelvis. Injury to the abdominal (most common) and adductor (less common) muscles causes a disharmony of forces on the pelvis. This leads to chronic groin pain seen in Athletic Pubalgia.

What is the Difference Between a True Hernia and a Sports Hernia?

A true hernia involves a weakening or a hole in the layers of the abdominal wall, with little to no pain or discomfort. A hernia is repaired by placement of mesh to repair the hole. Athletic Pubalgia, or sports hernia, is an injury to the core muscles which results in pain and discomfort to the groin area. There is no hole or weakening in the abdominal wall layers.

How is Athletic Pubalgia diagnosed?

Athletic Pubalgia, or sports hernia, is diagnosed with an MRI and physical exam.

How is it Athletic Pubalgia Treated?

Surgical repair of the core muscles is often required to treat Athletic Pubalgia. The procedure is an outpatient surgery, followed by an immediate therapy protocol.

What is the Recovery Time after Surgery?

The surgery is done as an outpatient procedure. This means the patient goes home the same day as the surgery. A recovery protocol is started almost immediately. Most patients are fully recovered by six weeks and are back to normal physical activity by three months.

What is the Success Rate of Surgery?Sports Hernia Illustration

We believe success is defined by a return to pre-injury physical activity. Almost all patients are able to return to their prior activities after surgery. Pain is relieved in most patients after surgery.

How Does this Surgery Address a Patient Who has had a Mesh Hernia Repair but Still has Pain?

Many patients have had their sports hernia, or Athletic Pubalgia, repaired with the traditional mesh hernia repair. Often times mesh hernia repair will not address the pain associated with Athletic Pubalgia. In these patients we need to address and repair the core muscles that have been injured to relieve the pain. These patients have good results as well with our surgery, but scar tissue can make it more difficult.

What Other Causes of Groin Pain are There?

In addition to Athletic Pubalgia, groin pain can be caused by injury to the nerves that supply the groin area. Injury to the hip joint itself can also cause groin pain. A condition called Avascular Necroisis of the Hip is another cause of groin pain. Click here for more information on AVN.

How are you Qualified as a Plastic Surgeon to Treat Athletic Pubalgia, or Sports Hernia?

Dr. Adam Saad is board certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery as well as in general surgery.  During his five-year general surgery residency he trained at one of the top centers for treatment of Athletic Pubalgia.  In addition, his plastic and reconstructive surgery training focused heavily on musculoskeletal conditions.  By combining these training experiences he is uniquely able to offer treatment for Athletic Pubalgia, or sports hernia, which is truly a core muscle injury.

Dr. Andrew Elkwood is board certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery and general surgery. He is recognized as an international leader in the field of peripheral nerve microsurgery. His experience in nerve surgery for pelvic pain and the treatment of complex hernias naturally led him to take on the challenge of treating complicated sports hernias.


To schedule a consultation with Dr. Saad, please contact our center.

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