Sports Hernia is the term given to chronic groin pain usually associated with exercise. It is some times referred to as 'Gilmore's Groin' after the surgeon who first described the condition. The use of the term 'hernia' is not really appropriate as there is no actual 'hernia' and 'Sports Groin Strain' or just simple 'Groin Strain' are probably better .
The classic symptoms associated with a Sports Hernia are discomfort or ache that arises in the groin region either during or just after exercise. The pain is a 'nagging discomfort' rather than a very severe pain. It often is not acute enough to stop or prevent the exercise but significantly decreases performance and erodes confidence.
Often the pain will come on in the day after exercise and last for a few days before wearing off, only to return again when exercise starts. There is usually no bulge or swelling in the groin region that is usually seen with a true hernia.
Sports groin strain is more commonly seen in younger people involved in sports involving quick pelvic twisting such as football and rugby, though runners and others sportsmen (and to a lesser extent sportswomen) can experience problems.
Sports Hernia: Causes
There are several reasons why you may develop chronic groin pain and it's important to determine which one you have, as there are several types of treatment and often surgery is not the best answer.
The more common causes are:
A: Tear in the muscle fibres in the oblique/transversalis muscles in the groin (this is probably the most common cause and the classic injury associated with sportsmans groin strain)
B: Disruption to the inguinal ligament where it attaches to the pubic bone
C: Strain or tear in the adductor longus tendon or it's insertion into the pelvic bone. This problem sometimes requires an adductor tendon tenotomy (division of the strong tendon) to relieve symptoms.
It's important to arrive at the correct diagnosis and this is best established through a recognised Consultant Specialist in Sports Medicine. There are now several specialists in the UK. Dr Phillip Batty is a leading International expert and sees patients in the Isokinetics Clinic in Harley Street, Dr Julia Newton is a Sports Medicine Specialist based in Oxford and consults at the Manor Hospital, Oxford.
Physiotherapy directed at the problem is usually the first line of treatment, sometimes a steroid injection alleviates the problem, in about 40% of patients surgery is needed.