Sports Hernia is an Equal Opportunity Injury

Sports injuries happen to the best, and most fit of us, from professional athletes to neighborhood softball league stars. Sometimes, they’re benign like a sprain or a pulled muscle. But other times, an injury is more complex, such as a sports hernia. Deep tissue tears resulting from sharp movements, diagnosed as sports hernias, affect athletes of all ages, sizes and skill levels. And sports hernias are gender neutral. They affect both men and women.

 A sports hernia is less common than many other injuries, and even professionals have difficulty pinpointing one. In the simplest possible terms, a sports hernia happens when there is a tear in the abdominal muscles. It affects the groin and lower trunk area, which is part of the “core” that keeps us stable. Unlike a traditional hernia, it doesn’t cause a hole in the abdominal wall. However, this can also make it more difficult to diagnose without visible symptoms in men and women. Sports hernias are often misconstrued as other injuries.

The symptoms of a sports hernia can be vague, which contributes to misdiagnosis. The most distinctive sign of a sports hernia is acute, recurring pain that doesn’t subside with rest. Pain associated with a sports hernia might lessen with a break from activity, but returns when activity is resumed. This cycle can make it difficult for athletes to get back to their sport. Other signals to seek expert advice include sharp, twisting pain and a loss of flexibility.

Sports hernias can happen while playing most any sport, but are common in those with quick movements, such as hockey, soccer, and football. They’re not limited to male-dominated contact sports, either – sports hernias are increasingly common with runners of both genders.

Even though sports hernias can affect all athletes, women make up only 10% of all sports hernia diagnoses. Sports hernias in women tend to be smaller and more internal, making it difficult to pinpoint the injury.  Communicating symptoms to your doctor is critical if you think you may have a sports hernia.

No matter your gender, or your talent, age or fitness level, knowing the signs of a sports hernia is critical. Taking the time to recognize common symptoms can mean the difference between the correct diagnosis and weeks of seeking out different doctors. Especially if you are a woman, recognize that a sports hernia is still a possibility. Even with all the differences in women’s and men’s sports, the sports hernia is not one – it’s an equal opportunity injury.