With hockey season fast approaching, pros and beer leaguers alike are preparing to do battle between the boards. Along with the inevitable bumps and bruises come another common, painful injury that’s prevalent among hockey players – the sports hernia or inguinal disruption.
Sports hernias impact professional and amateur hockey players alike at every level of their game. No player is immune considering well-known NHL athletes like Ryan Getzlaf, Jonathan Bernier, Matt Cooke and Andrew Ladd have all been sidelined while recovering from sports hernias they developed during the 2014/2015 season.
Why hockey players are at high risk of developing sports hernias?
To understand why sports hernias are so common among hockey players, it’s important to understand what a sports hernia actual is and isn’t.
A “typical” non-sports related hernia occurs when soft tissue (such as the intestines) protrudes through a weaken area the abdominal muscles, resulting in a visible bulge that can be painful to the touch.
By contrast, when hockey players develop sports hernias, there’s rarely a visible bulge at the site of the herniation. That’s because according to American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a sports hernia is actually a “strain or tear of any soft tissue (muscle, tendon or ligament) in the lower abdomen or groin area.”
Hockey players are at high risk of developing a sports hernia because this injury is “caused by repetitive twisting and turning at high speed.” All those breakneck battles for the puck, quick transitions and highlight reel saves can wreak havoc on the muscles and ligaments in the lower trunk, since it’s those muscles which are under the greatest strain.
Common sports hernia signs & symptoms
Sports hernias are notoriously difficult to diagnose, thanks in part to the lack of obvious external signs that can make it easy to spot the difference between a simple strain and a sports hernia. Worse yet, hockey players expect to feel discomfort, so they tend to ignore the tell-tale tenderness and reduced mobility associated with this painful, common condition.
Contact a sports hernia specialist
Hockey players who suspect they may be suffering from a sports hernia need to consult with a sports hernia specialist who can correctly diagnose the condition and provide expert advice on the recovery process. Left untreated, sports hernias can lead to long-term damage, so if you think you’ve incurred a hockey-related sports hernia, be sure to see a specialist, like Dr. Brown who treats San Jose Sharks hockey players, right away.