Sportsman’s hernia causes persistent pain in the groin area. It affects athletes who are prone to twisting such as football, hockey and rugby players. There is felt to be injury to muscles or tendons in the area where inguinal hernias occur. Repeated straining or stretching then worsens the symptoms.
Symptoms of sportsman’s hernia
Sportsman’s hernia usually presents with pain which is initially excruciating but then settles in to on-going chronic groin pain, made worse by physical activity – particularly further sporting activity. There is often no bulge or lump and so an ultrasound scan or MRI may be carried out to help make the diagnosis.
Causes of sportsman’s hernia
They tend to be precipitated by repetitive twisting movements associated with strenuous physical activity.
Treatment of sportsman’s hernia
Treatment can be difficult. Initially pain may be improved by rest – avoiding the activity which precipitated the condition. Specialist physiotherapy with USS treatment can be very important. Sometimes injection into the area with local anaesthetic and steroid injections is helpful. Surgery is usually a last resort but in the right circumstances can allow a return to full sporting activities. The surgery requires a modification of the inguinal hernia repair.This a day case operation meaning that no overnight stay in hospital is necessary. These repairs are usually carried out under general anaesthetic.
You will usually have a pre-op assessment in the week before surgery where blood tests, chest X-ray and an ECG (heart recording) may be taken. You will be admitted a few hours before the approximate planned time of surgery having had nothing to eat for six hours before the start time (you may drink water up to two hours before your proposed time of surgery – with any of your regular medications). You will see your surgeon and the anaesthetist before your operation.
After your surgery you will wake up in the recovery room, and then be transferred back to the ward. Later the same day you may have something to eat and drink if you wish. Most people are discharged home later the same day.
You will be provided with painkillers before discharge but it is recommended that you take regular paracetamol and ibuprofen (unless you are sensitive to these) after a few days of these. Stronger painkillers such as cocodamol may be necessary but if so it is important to take a laxative such as lactulose at the same time. You can expect to have some discomfort after surgery, but this will subside and most people are able to resume sporting activities within four weeks of surgery. You will be encouraged to take exercise within a structured programmebut should avoid heavy lifting or strenuous work during this time. You may drive a car when you are able to perform an emergency stop safely.There are no stitches to be removed.
You will be seen for follow-up six weeks following your surgery.
Risks of surgery
There are very few potential complications.You may develop some bruising around the wound which can take a while to settle. If the wound swells, becomes more painful and hot, or starts to discharge, you may have a wound infection and should contact the Berkshire Hernia Centre or your General Practitioner. The risk of recurrence is around 1-2%.