How Are Sports Hernias Treated?

sports hernia New York, NY

An athletic pubalgia, or sports hernia, is a soft tissue strain or tear in the lower abdomen or groin area. The injury can be to a ligament, tendon or muscle. This condition is quite painful and can lead to an inguinal hernia if left untreated. Also, failure to treat the injury can cause debilitating pain that makes it impossible to return to sports or even normal activities. Fortunately, various treatment options are available for this condition. With the right treatment, you can get back on the playing field and take down your opponents.

Treatments for a sports hernia

Both conservative and surgical treatments are used for sports hernias. Some patients respond to self-care, physical therapy and cortisone injections. Others need surgery. Those who require surgery will need to take additional time off to recover.


Some sports hernias can be treated with basic self-care. Patients should rest for 10 days and ice the area. Apply the ice for 30 minutes, four times a day. Patients can also take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications as part of a self-care routine. The combination of rest, ice and medication reduce inflammation and pain, putting patients on the right track to heal.

Physical therapy

Two weeks should pass before patients begin physical therapy. Physical therapy improves flexibility and strength in the tendons, ligaments and muscles. Along with helping patients recover from the injury, therapy also reduces the risk of a reoccurrence. Treatment programs are individualized to fit the needs of the patient but typically include stretching and strengthening exercise, as well as manual treatments to correct the imbalance between the torso and leg muscles. Patients can expect to spend four to six weeks in physical therapy.

Cortisone injections

When patients are still in pain after self-care and physical therapy, doctors often recommend cortisone injections. The powerful anti-inflammatory medication is injected directly into the injured area. It is normal to feel additional pain for 48 hours after the injection. This is called cortisone flare, and it might cause the injury to hurt more than it did before the injection. Fortunately, most patients experience pain relief within two days of receiving the injection.

Open or endoscopic surgery

If patients do not respond to conservative treatments, they can undergo open or endoscopic surgery. During open surgery, the surgeon makes a long incision to access the damaged tissue and then repairs it. With endoscopic surgery, the surgeon only needs to make a small incision. Then, the surgeon positions an endoscope to see inside the abdomen and repairs the damaged soft tissue.

While surgery corrects the problem, athletes need to wait before returning to the playing field. Doctors normally want patients to wait 6-12 weeks before engaging in vigorous activities. However, patients can resume some activities shortly after surgery. The surgeon will provide detailed instructions so patients can begin incorporating activities into their lives during recovery.

Getting treatment for a sports hernia

Sports hernias are so painful that it makes it difficult to engage in daily activities, let alone sports. If you have a hernia, your recovery plan will likely begin with conservative treatments. These treatments include self-care, physical therapy and cortisone injections. If you still have symptoms, you can undergo surgery to repair the soft tissue injury.

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