American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Treating and Preventing Sports Hernias

If you play ice hockey, tennis or soccer, you may be at risk for the most commonly misdiagnosed groin pain - a sports hernia.

Sports hernias are caused by repetitive twisting and turning at high speeds, and are frequently confused with common muscle strain,” says Michael Sampson, DO, an osteopathic sports medicine physician.

Muscle strain is caused when a muscle is stretched beyond its limit, which tears the muscle fibers usually where the muscle meets the tough, connective tissue of the tendon. 

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Flexibility Exercises

“The primary symptom of a sports hernia is groin pain that may branch out along the hip to the groin area,” says Dr. Sampson.

Although men tend to get sports hernias more often than women, Dr. Sampson recommends that all athletes, regardless of their sport, practice exercises targeted at prevention of the condition. Individuals at risk should include exercises that increase flexibility and strengthen the muscles in and around the pelvic area in their daily exercise routine.

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, focus on prevention, tuning into how a patient’s lifestyle and environment can impact their wellbeing. DOs strive to help their patients get healthy and stay well.

Treating the Pain

Your physician can diagnose a hernia by asking you to perform certain activities, such as sit-ups, to see whether the movement increases the pain. If the pain intensifies, the possibility of a sports hernia increases. 

Sports hernia treatment often includes:

  • Rest.

  • Using an ice pack on the area for 20 to 30 minutes three to four times a day.

  • If pain persists, surgery is often the next step in treatment. During surgery, the lower abdominal muscles and connective tissues are released and reattached. Some hip muscles are also loosened during this process as well.


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