Myth Busting Part 2: Addressing Common Misconceptions About Sports Hernias


It is difficult enough to find a physician familiar with sports hernias, and thus get an accurate diagnosis. The myths surrounding sports hernias (also known as athletic pubalgia syndrome (APS) and inguinal disruption) only add frustration to an already frustration time in life for athletes who are with the injury.

In part 1, we addressed several myths regarding names, diagnosis, risk factors and muscles involved. Let’s tackle some other common misconceptions…

  1. Only athletes are diagnosed with inguinal disruptions.  Playing sports, especially those requiring lots of twisting motion, is just one cause. Non-athletes can suffer a sports hernia due to severe trauma or injury associated with car accidents, work-related injuries, and the like.
  2. Women can’t have a sports hernia. While it may seem like more men are diagnosed with APS than men, it’s probably a result of numbers. Most major sports feature men, so we hear of those injuries more often. However, women are afflicted in the same ways as their male counterparts. The muscles torn in this injury are found in both males and females.
  3. Younger athletes are more likely have a sports hernia than older athletes. Inguinal disruptions do not discriminate by age. Younger athletes may be prone to push their bodies harder, resulting in injury. Older athletes, who don’t focus on strengthening their core muscles, face the same level of risk since weaker muscles tear more easily.
  4. Muscle pain is the primary symptom of APS. Pain is one symptom of a sports hernia, but certainly not the only one. Patients report nausea as well. Pain may subside after rest, yet returns with a vengeance once normal activity is resumed. Frustration, a mental rather than a physical symptom, cannot be underestimated. Sports hernias, along with pain, can impact mood when not properly diagnosed or treated.

    If you think APS is a possibility, make an appointment with a physician who is familiar with sports hernias and will perform the right tests, including an MRI if warranted. Your doctor should have an experienced radiologist who is knowledgeable in identifying APS. If diagnosed, surgical repair may be in order, followed by a smart recovery and reconditioning program.

    Hip, groin or lower abdominal pain should be tested for an inguinal disruption. It shouldn’t be ruled out or dismissed immediately without proper examination. Making an appointment with a sports hernia specialist early on could mean the difference between getting back to normal in weeks versus waiting months or years.