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Surgical Repair of Athletic Hernia Speeds Return to Play

used in this study to return the athletes to activity following repair.

The program starts with early ambulation and motion and works toward resistance and core muscle building while later progressing to speed and functional activities. The hope is that this program can facilitate a faster rehabilitation and return to sport.

The three main groups of athletes who develop athletic hernias are hockey, soccer and football players. Sprinting, kicking, and skating are the activities that appear to be most problematic, explains Dr. Brunt.

The athletes we see have usually undergone an extensive period of conservative management and having failed that, should be considered for surgical repair. On average, athletes in our series had experienced symptoms for more than eight months before undergoing surgery.

Pain from an athletic hernia, or pubalgia, is in the lower abdominal region and pubic bone. Typically this pain has been unexplained for a period of time, and there are few indications of the condition in the patients personal history, physical exam, or imaging scans.

Making an accurate diagnosis often involves excluding other reasons for pain and identifying the few subtle findings that make the diagnosis.

Sports hernias have received recent media attention because several high-profile athletes, including tight end L.J. Smith of the Philadelphia Eagles, have been diagnosed with the condition. Athletic hernia can occur in athletes who are not necessarily at the elite level and who play sports only recreationally, Dr. Brunt notes.

Tension-free mesh is used for repair of other types of hernias. With no tension on the repair, the athlete can return to play earlier than when only sutures are used. Less pain is reported in the post-operative period when the mesh is used. Using the mesh helps restore strength and stability to the area affected, allowing easier recovery.

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