Sports Hernia Surgery Recovery: What to Expect Post Surgery
You’ve just had surgery to repair a sports hernia. The pain has sidelined you long enough and you’re more than ready to get back to life as usual, whether that’s running, dancing, playing hockey, tennis, professionally or as an amateur. But what’s even more important than getting off the sidelines, so to speak, is making certain you don’t compromise your sports hernia repair. Fortunately, with a little patience and following your doctor’s orders, you’re sports hernia surgery recovery will be relatively short. Most sports hernia patients are back to full speed in two to three months.
Here’s what to expect (and to keep in mind) post sports hernia surgery:
The surgical area will remain numb for eight to 16 hours if you elected for local anesthetic. After that, manage any pain with OTC pain medications (like Advil or Tylenol) for mild discomfort and prescription pain medication for more severe pain. There’s no need to suffer! If it hurts, gauge the severity and take medication to control it accordingly. There is no gold star, medal or trophy for enduring unnecessary discomfort. If you feel the need to take pain meds for longer than three days, let your surgeon know. And never, ever sign anything important while under the influence of pain medication. Whatever documents you have can wait until your mind is clear. Don’t expect to drive until you’re fully off the pain meds either.
Feeling hungry? Great, your body is on the mend. Go grab something to eat, but make it light. The goal is to avoid constipation (for obvious, uncomfortable reasons) so drink lots of water and eat fiber-rich foods. The goal is to avoid straining, which pulls on sutures when going to the bathroom. If necessary, take Milk of Magnesia to keep things regular. You’re drinking a lot of water (no alcohol, especially if you’re taking pain medication), but your urine stream is slow? That’s common. It will be slow for a few days post hernia repair surgery.
Twelve hours after surgery, your bandage and tape can come off. No, keeping them on will not keep out germs or whatnot. Instead, the tape will give you blisters. Remove it! There’s no need to replace the dressing. You can even shower at this point and not worry about getting the area wet. You do need to keep the area iced though for at least a full 24 hours. You also should have someone with you during this first 24 hours to help you, just in case.
Don’t be alarmed if the site bruises several days post-surgery. Bruising could even run down the thigh and affect the penis and scrotum in men. Bruising could last for a few weeks. Men, your testicles may even swell. Again, this is nothing to be worried about. You’ll be back to normal size soon. When can you resume sex again? Whenever you feel up to it.
Which brings up the topic of activity. For patients from outside of the Bay Area, we recommend going home the second day after surgery, though some travel the same day. Keep in mind you’re still in the resting stage though. Light exercise and walking is fine. Stairs are okay, but listen to your body. If a particular activity causes a sharp pain, then stop doing it. Remember this when traveling. Carrying and handling suitcases could be painful at this point so your buddy’s help is even more appreciated.
One-week post sports hernia repair, you’ll have your follow up appointment. If you live out of the area, this can be easily done with a phone call. If you’re feeling strong enough, we’ll discuss a sports hernia rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation is an important part of the healing process. I advise a six to nine week program that starts out with rest, adds progressive aerobic exercise, and finally weights and speed. The body takes time to recover from surgery. Go slowly. A physical therapist or trainer can also be of great benefit, though isn’t necessary or an option for some.
Nine weeks into your healing, the hard swelling at the site will subside, but abdominal wall discomfort and adductor tendon stiffness may set in at this point if you’re exercising vigorously.
Typically, sports hernia patients return to their sport full force sometime in between nine and 12 weeks post surgery.