Sports Rehab and Sports Hernia are commonly found among professional athletes in football, soccer, hockey, wrestling and tennis. It is also common in weekend warriors going all out in their sport making extreme twisting and turning motions repeatedly. The weekend warrior is certainly not in condition for this kind of activity thus promoting this kind of injury.
By definition a sports hernia is a tear to the oblique abdominal musculature. Don’t confuse this with an inguinal or traditional hernia where a section of the abdomen bulges through a weak area in the abdominal wall.
An athlete who sustains this injury will not show a visible bulge making it difficult to diagnosis.
In this article I will discuss some of the causes, symptoms, sports rehab and when surgery may be indicated.
The cause of a sports hernia usually occurs when an athlete twists his body with maximum exertion on planted feet. The result is a tear in the soft tissue of the lower abdomen. A traditional hernia results from lifting a heavy weight or you can be born with a weak abdominal wall.
The usual symptoms of a sports hernia is that on initial onset there is severe pain in the abdomen or groin. Rest typically relieves the pain but returns when sports activity resumes. On physical examination of the athlete there is tenderness in the groin and lower abdominal region. With a sports hernia performing a sit up or flexing your trunk is painful. MRI studies will definitely determine the extent of the injury.
For the first week following the injury complete rest is highly recommended. Applying ice applications during the day and using a compression wrap on the abdomen is very helpful. The doctor many times prescribes anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and pain. A sports rehab specialist will use ultra sound to further reduce inflammation, electrical stimulation to relax the muscle and a cold laser to enhance healing.
After 2 weeks post injury you can start mild exercises under the guidance of the sports rehab specialist to improve strength and flexibility in the abdominal musculature. After 4-6 weeks of physical therapy the athlete usually can return to their sport however if the pain returns then the athlete must consider a procedure.
There are two types of procedures to repair a sports hernia. There is an open procedure with a long incision or an endoscopic procedure where the surgeon uses a mini camera through small skin incisions. The doctor advises which procedure is best for you.
The surgeon and sports rehab specialist develop a program for you to regain strength and endurance. On the average most athletes return to sports anywhere from 6-12 weeks following the procedure and sports rehab.
The best advise I can give you if you suspect a sports hernia is to discontinue sports activity and consult with a specialist.