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Sports Hernia

Sports Hernias soccer player kicking ball

Sports hernias are injuries that occur typically in athletes who perform a lot of twisting or sudden changes in direction and/or speed. They most commonly occur in sports such as hockey, soccer, football, basketball, volleyball and tennis. The definition, cause, treatment, and even existence of sports hernias is controversial. At North Carolina Surgery, we not only believe this entity exists, but we have interest and experience and a dedicated team approach to managing this frustrating injury.

Sports hernias encompass a group of injuries involving the muscles and tendons and their attachments to the pubic bone. A careful history and physical exam, as well as correlation with specialized imaging studies, are needed in order to determine the presence of a hernia. Depending on the specific injury(ies) found, treatment may vary from nonsurgical to surgical management.

Sports hernias cause chronic pain that can restrict movement. Usually symptoms disappear with rest and recur with the offending explosive athletic maneuvers. The result is a smoldering persistent pain in the absence of a “true” bulging hernia defect. Left untreated, and with continued play, the repetitive injury can eventually prevent you from participating in sports. The experts at North Carolina Surgery can help determine the best options to effectively treat your injury.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Conservative treatment is often the first option for a sports hernia. Indeed, depending on the specific injury, in some cases nonsurgical treatment is the only option available. Nonsurgical treatment includes:

  • Rest and ice for a week or so after the injury occurs.
  • Physical therapy, including massage, stretching, exercise and dry needling
  • Anti-inflammatory and other pain-relieving medications
  • Injections such as cortisone and PRP (platelet rich plasma)

Surgical Treatment

In our experience, certain patterns of injury in sports hernia respond well to surgery, and certain patterns do not. Patients are carefully evaluated to determine whether surgery is an appropriate option or not.

  • Surgery for a sports hernia consists of stabilizing the muscle-tendon-bone attachment zones in the pubic region through traditional or sometimes laparoscopic surgery.
  • After surgery, your surgeon will recommend a rehabilitation program.
  • Most people are able to return to sport 6 to 8 weeks after the procedure.

Our Commitment

At North Carolina Surgery, we understand that sports hernias are a frustrating and controversial problem. We realize that this problem affects not only competitive elite athletes whose scholarship prospects and/or professional livelihood are hanging in the balance, but also “weekend warriors” and otherwise “regular” working people who depend on their athleticism for healthy balance and enjoyment in life. Each patient has unique issues and circumstances related to his/her injury, goals of therapy, prior medical/surgical considerations, and a timeline impacting decisions in care. It takes time to discuss all these factors. Our experts are here to help ease your pain and get you back in the game as soon as possible.


More information on sports hernias and their treatments can be found at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment, or to speak with someone on our staff, please call 919-784-4160.