A sports hernia is different than a traditional hernia. A sports hernia is a tear or strain of the muscles, tendons, and/or ligaments in the groin and lower abdominal wall.  The cause is most often sports that involve acceleration and cutting. 

The physicians have multiple names for this injury such as athletic pubalgia, inguinal disruption, groin strain, Gilmore groin, or sports hernia.  The use of multiple terms for the injury causes confusion among both physicians and athletes.

We compiled a list of common terms used by physicians and sports hernia surgeons, along with their definitions, to help you better understand your injury and diagnosis.

Entrapment of the Ilioinguinal nerve: The ilioinguinal nerve passes between the external oblique aponeurosis and the internal oblique muscle.  Then the oblique muscles tear, this can cause the nerve to be stretch or pinched.  This is called entrapment of the nerve.  The irritated ilioinguinal nerve will cause pain and burning that starts under the pubic hair and radiates down to the inner thigh and scrotum or labia. 

Gilmore’s groin: Is one of the origin terms used to describe a sports hernia.  Dr. Gilmore’s wrote about the injury in 1980.  He noted that sports that involve acceleration and cutting often because the oblique muscles to tear and he wrote about how he surgically repaired the damage.

Inguinal hernia:  This is a hole through all the layers of the muscles in the lower abdomen.  This allows intestines to slide out through the hole and a bulge can be felt under the skin.  The hole can be congenital or acquired.

Tear in the conjoint tendon: The conjoint tendon is located on the lateral aspect if the rectus abdominis muscle.  It also is composed of fibers from the oblique muscles.  An injury to this tendon is often part of a sports hernia injury.   During the preoperative evaluation of the athlete, this tendon should be carefully examined and if damaged then it should be repaired as part of the sports hernia operation.

Tear in the transversalis muscle:  The transversalis is the deepest muscle of the abdominal wall.  The internal oblique muscle and the external oblique muscle lay on top of it.  With a sports hernia injury the external oblique muscle and the internal oblique muscle usually are the first to tear.  But with repeated stress the transversalis muscle eventually tears.  When the internal oblique tears the athlete will notice a significant increase in his/her pain and weakness. 

Come back next week for part two of this article.

Choose a Sports Hernia Specialist Who Speaks Plain English

Without proper treatment, a sports hernia diminishes your athletic performance. Dr. William Brown, a sports hernia specialist, not only understands the unique injuries that tend to occur in athletes, but also explains your diagnosis and treatment options in plain English.  It is important that you understand your injury and be able to participate in the decision making process.