Why Sports Hernia Symptoms Can Be Difficult To Diagnose


Sports hernia symptoms can very often be difficult to diagnose. The fact of the matter is, the term sports hernia is somewhat of a misnomer. When a sports hernia is present, pain or discomfort will usually be felt in the abdominal area, and at times a slight bulging or swelling may be experienced, but this bulging is not due to an actual hernia, which is a protrusion of bodily tissue through an opening in weakened tissue. A sports hernia is some ways acts like a hernia, but it is not a hernia.

The Inguinal Hernias


There is an area or region in the abdomen what is called the inguinal region, in which the inguinal canal is located. The inguinal canal is a tunnel located within the abdominal muscles that is present at birth in both men and women. It partially closes following birth, but a portion of it remains. The tissues making up this canal are rather weak, and can sometimes be damaged by the rapid turning and twisting the abdomen can often experience during dancing or athletic events. If the wall of the inguinal canal becomes weakened to the point that a rupture occurs, a hernia can develop. This hernia is called an inguinal hernia, which is the most common of the various types of abdominal hernias. An inguinal hernia is more apt to be experienced by men than by women, the reason being that the configuration of the inguinal canal is different in men than it is in women and, in the case of men, is somewhat more vulnerable to injury.


The Sports Hernia


If it feels like a hernia and acts like a hernia, it must be a hernia. That logic doesn’t apply in this particular case however. An inguinal hernia is not one and the same thing as a sports hernia. As mentioned above, a sports hernia is not a true hernia. A sports hernia is a tear in the abdominal muscles, a tear resulting from athletic or sports activities, and a tear that is most likely to occur in the inguinal region. Such a muscle tear will naturally cause some pain. Swelling may also occur in the muscles surrounding the inguinal region. It is the bulge that swelling may cause that can easily be mistaken for a hernia, and it is the swelling, which places pressure on nerves, that usually causes the most severe pain.

The Difficulty In Diagnosing Sports Hernia Symptoms


Why are sports hernia symptoms so difficult to diagnose? One reason is that the main symptom is one of abdominal pain, and there are many medical problems that can cause abdominal pain, ranging from muscle injuries, to digestive issues, to appendicitis. Another reason is that the pain felt is sometimes what is called a referred pain, which means that, thanks to the nervous system, it is felt in an area different from where the actual injury has occurred. The pain may be felt in the middle of the lower abdomen, on one side of the lower part of the abdomen, which is more likely, or in the groin area, which is most often the case.


The pain associated with a sports hernia isn’t necessarily a constant pain, in fact it often is a pain that comes and goes, and is a pain most apt to be felt when the affected muscles are active, such as in twisting and turning. The pain isn’t always severe either. Quite often it would best be described as discomfort. When a sharp pain is experienced, it is often due to sudden twisting, after which the pain will recede. Coughing or sneezing can sometimes trigger a brief episode of pain.

In attempting to diagnose sports hernia symptoms, a patient may be asked to perform a battery of tests. These tests consist of various exercises, gentle enough so as not to cause severe pain or further damage, but strenuous enough to cause a sufficient amount of discomfort in order to help isolate the location of the injury and determine its type. Sit-ups, for example, are one such exercise, since discomfort due to a sports hernia is apt to be felt in the groin area during sit-ups. Slow pivoting motions, kicking motions, and even simulating getting out of a car often will reveal telltale signs.


Treatment And Recovery


In some cases, when given a proper amount of rest, a sports hernia will go away on its own, and no treatment may be needed. The wall of the inguinal canal will remain in a weakened state however, leaving the door open for a possible repeat of the injury at some time in the future. In most instances, surgery will be required to repair the injury and correct the problem once and for all. This is not major surgery. Laparoscopic surgery, performed on an out-patient basis, is the norm, although there are occasionally instances where open surgery may be called for. Recovery time generally does not involve more than a couple of weeks, after which an athlete who has suffered a sports hernia can return to practice.