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Sports Hernia

Sports Hernia Description, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Who better to advise an athlete regarding a sports hernia than fifteen time Ironman finisher and hernia specialist, Dr. David Albin. Dr. Albin has performed 12,000 hernia surgeries and has over 25 years experience.

Dr. Albin is an Athlete and Understands Sports Hernias

A sports hernia, also known as athletic pubalgia, occurs when the muscles in the lower abdomen tear or rip causing pain in the lower abdomen and groin areas. Pain from this type of injury usually begins rather slowly at first and increases in intensity as time passes. Sports hernias occur in both professional and recreational athletes. Even though it is mostly men who suffer from sports hernias, women can also develop this condition,

Even athletes who have strong abdominal muscles are subject to sports hernias. They develop through shearing forces, created by simultaneous contracting of the abdominal wall, and thigh muscles pulling in different directions. This occurs more commonly during side-to-side movements resulting in small tears or rips in the muscle.

Often sports hernias are confused with and misdiagnosed as groin strains. A strain will usually heal on its own in two to six weeks. On the other hand, sports hernia are differentiated by the classic inguinal hernia in that there is no hernia bulge, and in some cases recovery may require surgery.

Sports Hernia Diagnosis

Diagnosis is determined by your health history and a physical examination. Tests may be performed to rule out other causes for the groin pain. An MRI can be used to detect a sports hernia, but is not always positive. Often, simple methods will tell, such as asking the patient to perform an activity like sit-ups or a straight leg lift, to determine if movement increases pain. If the patient’s pain intensifies during this activity, the likelihood of a sports hernia increases.

Sports Hernia Symptoms

Pain from a sports hernia generally begins slowly with an ache in the lower abdomen and/or groin region. The pain is usually on one side of the abdomen. The pain worsens with sudden movements such as kicking, sprinting, twisting, and high level of activity.

Sports Hernia Treatment

Rest is the number one treatment for a sports hernia. It is usually partnered with using an ice pack on the injured area 3 to 4 times a day for 20­30 minute periods, and anti-inflammatory medicines such as Motrin® or Aleve®. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for symptoms to go away. However, the longer you continue participating in the causal activity the longer it is going to take you to heal.

If the aforementioned treatments do not alleviate the symptoms of a sports hernia, surgery may be needed to repair the weakened abdominal wall. The operation of choice is an inguinal hernia repair. Dr. Albin believes that athletes need to be treated as individuals. For example, the sports hernia surgery for the professional linebacker or weightlifter differs from the type of hernia surgery for the sprinter or cyclist. Our sports hernia operations are individually tailored to meet the needs for each of our athletes.

Sports Hernia Recovery

Every one of our patients receives an individualized rehabilitation program that is catered to their specific needs. Studies have shown that between 65% and 90% of athletes who undergo surgery are able to return to their regular athletic activity within about six weeks.

DISCLAMER: The following schedules constitute a general return-to-activities for patient who have had the Albin Tension Free Mesh technique. Your regimen may be slightly different. After surgery, Dr. Albin personally consults with each patient and individually initiates a rehab program depending on the patient’s healing and skill level.

RUNNERS

One day after sports hernia surgery we recommend walking for one hour per day. After two to three days, this is increased to two hours per day. Once patients are comfortable walking then running is initiated.

Running activities are performed in five minute intervals. Patients can run for 20 to 40 minutes, or four to eight intervals of five minutes each, depending on their comfort or skill level.
A typical return-to-activity regimen will be as follows:

WEEK 1: ­ Light jogging

Day one: First week of jogging consists of five minute intervals, in which a light jogging interval is done for only one minute followed by four minutes of walking.

Day two: No jogging.

Day three: Light jogging interval for two minutes followed by three minutes of walking.

Day four: No jogging.

Day five: Light jogging interval for three minutes followed by two minutes of walking.

Day six: No jogging.

Day seven: Light jogging interval for four minutes followed by one minute of walking.

WEEK 2: ­ Moderate jogging.

WEEK 3: ­ Slow run.

WEEK 4: ­ Normal running pace.

WEEK 5: ­ No restrictions. Speed work or hills can be added without restriction.

SWIMMERS

One day after sports hernia surgery we recommend walking for one hour per day. After two to three days, this is increased to two hours per day.

WEEK 2: ­ CAUTION! NEVER SWIM ALONE

Day seven: Begin swimming. Slow swimming with exaggerated strokes that mimic stretches.

Day ten: (to day 14, depending on your comfort level) Begin slow or recovery type swimming, gradually increasing up to one hour.
Salt water swimming can also begin day ten.

WEEK 3: ­ Begin aerobic swimming and drill work, all at a moderate pace.

WEEK 5: ­ Initiate speed work and swim without restriction.

CYCLISTS

One day after surgery we recommend walking for one hour per day. After two to three days, this is increased to two hours per day.

Day three: Begin cycling on a stationary bike. Start at a slow low intensity or pace for the first week. Begin with no more than 30 minutes the first day. Cycle every day. Gradually increase the time, up to one hour. We prefer use of the stationary bike the first week to avoid falls.

WEEK 2: Bike on a non stationary bike. For this week we recommend flat terrain. Your first outdoor bike ride should be a small loop, such as around the block, in the event you find you’re not quite ready. Gradually, as your comfort level improves, add more time on the bike.

WEEK 3: Add some hill work.

WEEK 4: Add speed work and cycle without restriction.

WEIGHT LIFTERS

One day after surgery we recommend walking for one hour per day.
After two to three days, this is increased to two hours per day.

Day five: Make your first trip to the gym. Use light free weights or machines at minimal tension. This is done to maintain your flexibility. You should not lift over forty pounds the first month. We recommend that you use your personal toning weight as a guide.

WEEK 4: Lift 25% of your toning weight.

WEEK 5: Lift 50% of your toning weight.

WEEK 6: Lift 75% of your toning weight.

WEEK 7: Lift your toning weight.

WEEK 8: Lift without restriction.

GOLF

One day after surgery we recommend walking for one hour per day. After two to three days, this is increased to two hours per day.

Day three: Begin putting and chipping.

Day five: You may be ready for a pitch and put or a par 3 course. Restrict yourself to irons greater than number seven. If you like the driving range you may do so, but stick to your short game. Favor the higher number irons.

WEEK 2: Start hitting a few of the heavier irons. By week’s end you can increase your use of the lower numbered irons.

WEEK 3: Add the woods. You may be ready for a 9­hole or executive golf course game.

WEEK 4: Play a full 18­hole game without restriction.

HIKING

One day after your sports hernia surgery we recommend walking for one hour per day. After two to three days, this is increased to two hours per day.

Hike sensibly. Always let someone know where you are going. Bring an ample amount of water. Stay on the trail.

Day three: Begin hiking on flat terrain. Start with a short, easy hike. You may gradually increase the distance depending on your comfort level.

WEEK 2: Begin with short, moderate hikes or long, easy hikes.

WEEK3: Begin long, moderate hikes.

WEEK 4: Begin strenuous hikes.

BASKETBALL

One day after your sports hernia surgery we recommend walking for one hour per day. After two to three days, this is increased to two hours per day.

Day three: Start shooting hoops by yourself.

WEEK 1: Try a one-on-one game with an easy opponent.

WEEK 2: Play full court, but be prepared to sit out most of the game.

WEEK 3: You can play a good portion of the game.

WEEK 4: Pay full court without restriction.

TENNIS

One day after sports hernia surgery we recommend walking for one hour per day. After two to three days, this is increased to two hours per day.

Day five: Start hitting some balls. Play with an opponent that will hit the ball to you. It is not advised that you run after the ball at this time.

WEEK 2: Play a game with minimal running.

WEEK 3: Play without restriction.

SPORTS IN GENERAL

FOUR WEEKS after hernia surgery ­- You can return to any and all recreational and athletic activity (except weight lifting), including contact sports. By this time in the recovery process you should be able to perform all original activity as you did before surgery. If you are still experiencing some discomfort, this is normal. However, if you experience pain at this point in the recovery process, please contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Dr. Albin strongly recommends that all athletes, no matter what the sport, practice exercises which increase flexibility and strengthen pelvic muscles regularly so as to avoid sports hernias all together.

The Hernia Center of Southern California has helped thousands of high profile professional athletes, college athletes, and recreational athletes.

Dr. Albin is a well recognized expert in sports hernia repair. The Hernia Center of Southern California specializes in all types of advanced open and laparoscopic hernia surgery. Dr. Albin has performed over 12,000 hernia surgeries in 25 years. His surgical practice is limited to the diagnosis and treatment of hernias. He is exclusively a hernia surgeon. Patients see Dr. Albin from Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties as well as throughout the United States. The Albin Tension Free Mesh Technique is recognized worldwide.

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  626.584.6116
Feeling pain? Schedule an appointment today.   626.584.6116