The Hernia Guide for Tennis Players

Tennis players are aware that common injuries of their game can include rotator cuff tears, stress fractures, ankle sprains, patellar tendonitis, and of course, tennis elbow. But tennis can also cause another very painful—albeit lesser-known—injury: the Sports Hernia.

What is it, exactly? And how is it different than a regular hernia?

A regular hernia happens when intestines push through a hole in the muscles.  The resulting bulge that can become painful.

However, a Sports Hernia occurs when there is a tear of adductor longus tendon or a tear of one of the oblique muscles.  These tears develop from sheer forces that high-intensity and twisting movements develop.  High level tennis players are prone to this type of injury.

Why are tennis players at risk of a Sports Hernia?

Tennis is one of the biggest triggers for Sports Hernias because of the repetitive twisting and turning at high speeds.

Unfortunately, even tennis players in top shape are at risk to develop a Sports Hernia. Having stronger core muscles helps—but it doesn’t make anyone immune to them. Men tend to suffer from Sports Hernias more so than women, but again, they can happen to anyone.

What are the signs and symptoms of a Hernia?

Many athletes who develop a Sports Hernia mistake it for a strained muscle. They will feel pain in the groin, lower abdomen, and/or testicles. Usually this pain is only on one side, and gets worse when they accelerate, twist their body, or cut sharply.

Because many tennis players believe that they have a simple muscle strain, they are convinced that the pain will go away on its own. While getting off your feet or ice packs may help for a while, the pain will return once you’re back on the tennis court.

How are Sports Hernias diagnosed and treated?

Although Hernias can be tricky to diagnose, an MRI reviewed by an experienced Sports Hernia specialist like Dr. Brown can help make a proper diagnosis.

Initial treatment of Sports Hernias is conservative with rest, analgesics, massage, strengthening, and physical therapy. If these methods are not effective, then surgery is recommended. 

A Sports Hernia injury will keep you from playing at a high level. So the sooner the diagnosis is made the sooner you can get back to playing. An MRI reviewed by an experienced Sports Hernia specialist helps accurately diagnose a Sports Hernia, which can then be repaired.

Dr. William Brown has been treating Hernias since 1999.  As a specialist in this field, Dr. Brown can accurately diagnose the condition, repair it, and get athletes to the recovery process. He has been the surgeon for the San Jose Sabercats, the San Jose Sharks, and the San Jose Earthquakes, as well as athletes from the NFL, AFL, NBA, NBL and the United States Soccer League. He finds his work very satisfying and loves to help athletes recover from debilitating Hernia pain.