Athletes endure a variety of injuries, as minor as a blister or as significant as a broken bone. One injury many male athletes in particular endure is a sports hernia. A hernia is a sac formed in the lining of the abdominal cavity. The sac comes through a hole or weak area in the fascia surrounding the muscle. There are several types of hernias: femoral, incisional, inguinal, and umbilical. A sports hernia is an inguinal hernia, which appears as a bulge in the groin and can go all the way down into the scrotum. Repair of these hernias is the most frequently performed operation in general surgery.1
Very little is known to why these hernias occur, but researchers presented a study to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine in Baltimore that revealed a type of hip condition known as Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI), may be a contributing factor.2
The study reviewed forty three patients who were diagnosed with sports hernias and had undergone surgical treatment from 1999-2011 (fifty six total hernias). MRI, CT scans, or x-rays were used to locate radiological signs of FAI. Thirty seven of the forty three patients exhibited some form of FAI on the examinations.3
“Our study illustrated that those patients with FAI tend to have a change in hip biomechanics which in turn leads to increased stress across the groin. With these stresses a sports hernia (tear to the oblique abdominal muscles), is more likely to occur,” said lead author, Kostas Economopoulos, MD from the University of Virginia Department of Orthopedics.4
“We hope that our study encourages physicians who see sports hernia and chronic groin pain in athletes to further investigate the possibility of FAI and in turn can recommend better treatment options for this puzzling condition,” said Economopoulos.5
The discovery of the correlation between FAI and sports hernias could be quite beneficial to male athletes since sports hernias often occur without warning. If an athlete were to display signs of FAI, then he could then take further steps to prevent the occurrence of a sports hernia. Sports hernias take a significant amount of time for a full recovery, and avoiding sustaining one can possibly be alleviated with the FAI screening.
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