Sports Hernia

What is a sports hernia?

A sports hernia is not an actual hernia. It is a core muscle injury that involves small tears and inflammation from repetitive use of the muscle in the lower abdomen, groin, and lower leg. This condition is most common in healthy athletes such as runners, baseball, soccer, hockey, and football players.

What are the symptoms?

  • Persistent pain without a physical “bulge.”
  • Groin pain that gets worse during sports and increased activity
  • Pain that is stronger during twisting and abrupt movements

How is it diagnosed?

Sports hernias are diagnosed through a physical exam and imaging studies like a MRI, ultrasound, and CT. Patients also receive an evaluation from a multidisciplinary team, which could include sports medicine and orthopedic doctors.

How is it treated?

We typically treat these injuries with conservative methods first — like physical therapy or injections at the site for pain reduction. To reduce pain and inflammation, you may receive a non-prescription medication such as Advil, Motrin, ibuprofen, or Aleve.

What is the surgical treatment?

Our surgeons use a laparoscopic approach, which involves small incisions. This method allows for:

  • Faster recovery time
  • Decreased risk of infection
  • Less postoperative pain
  • A shorter hospital stay

The goal is to reinforce muscles of the lower abdomen, groin or lower leg, and inguinal floor. You can discuss the details of the surgery with your surgeon.

How effective is the surgery?

In long-term studies, surgery eliminated pain and impairment in 76% of patients. Another 11% of patients experienced significant improvement in their symptoms and were able to return to their regular activities.

What can I expect after surgery?

Most patients have a few small incisions and may go home the day of surgery. When you go home:

  • No driving for 24 hours
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as Advil, as prescribed to control pain and inflammation
  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for 4 to 6 weeks
  • Wait 12 weeks before doing any vigorous lifting, sports, and athletic training
  • After 6 to 12 weeks of gradual rehabilitation exercises, return to daily activities, sports, and exercise
  • Follow up with the surgeon in two to three weeks to plan a return to normal activities

Contact us

Call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 or request an appointment to learn more about AHN general surgery services.

For follow-up questions related to your hernia care, contact the Comprehensive’s Hernia Center’s Clinical Coordinator, Jennifer Somers at (412) 578-4215 or at