A sports hernia occurs when the layers of the lower abdominal wall or tendons attached to the muscles in the pelvis weaken or tear. This condition is almost always the result of repetitive twisting movements common in athletic activities such as tennis, football, and soccer.
Chronic, sometimes severe, pain in the lower abdomen or groin is the most common symptom of sports hernias. A dull or burning pain may also occur, and the affected area will usually be tender when pressed. Pain often subsides with rest but will return when physical activity resumes.
Sports hernias are usually difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are also common in other injuries, such as a fractured pelvis. Additionally, sports hernias do not look like other hernias where a bulge develops under the skin. Physicians will assess symptoms, medical history, and the ability to perform exercises like sitting up. Imaging tests such as x-rays may also be used to rule out other injuries.
Treatment for sports hernias usually depends on the severity of the injury. Mild cases may be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, ice, physical therapy, and rest. If conservative treatments are not working, surgery may be recommended to repair the damage.