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Bouncing Back from a Sports Hernia

Submitted by Jennifer Davies, Health Contributor

Baseball players are no strangers to sports injuries, but not everyone is aware of the less common issues that players can experience. Sports hernias affect only 5% of athletes, but the condition is still painful and debilitating. If left untreated, a sports hernia can keep you off the field for months. Here’s everything that you need to know about how to identify and treat sports hernias as a baseball player.

What is a Sports Hernia?

A hernia is a painful condition that involves part of an organ, often the intestines, protruding through the wall of your abdominal cavity. While sports hernias aren’t true hernias, seeing as there’s no noticeable protrusion, they can be just as painful. Also known as athletic pubalgia, Gilmore’s groin, and slap shot gut, sports hernias generally manifest as a pain in the groin region

Sports hernias most often happen to athletes playing high-contact sports such as hockey, football, soccer - and yes, baseball. The condition is the result of repetitive twisting of the waist or pelvis, which can cause tearing in muscles along the abdomen and pelvis. These tears can get worse with time, which can lead to the formation of an inguinal hernia.

Diagnosing Sports Hernias

Sports hernias can be tough to diagnose in athletes of all ages. Since there are no noticeable symptoms, as with most hernias, doctors have to judge by a patient’s pain ratings. Weeks or months of consistent pain in the groin region may indicate the presence of a sports hernia, though it’s not guaranteed. It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you experience symptoms of a sports hernia. They can more accurately diagnose the condition by delving into your history, including baseball-related activities, as well as examinations of the lower abdomen, pelvis, and legs. Sometimes, injuries may be diagnosed using imaging scans such as MRIs.

Treating Sports Hernias

The best thing you can do when you’ve been diagnosed with a sports hernia is to take some time away from the baseball field. While nobody wants to be put on the sidelines, powering through the pain is likely just to end up exacerbating your injury. Not only will this cause some massive discomfort, but it will end up extending your recovery time.

You can work towards a full recovery by resting up for as long as it takes for your injury to heal. You may be able to speed up the process using anti-inflammatory medications, heat and ice application, deep tissue massage, and other non-operative treatments. For severe sports hernias, however, you doctor may recommend surgery. While the idea sounds intimidating, surgery to treat sports hernias is most often relatively simple and has a 90% success rate.

If you experience pain in your groin when playing on the baseball field, you may be suffering from a sports hernia. While it’s not a life-threatening condition, without treatment, symptoms can get progressively worse. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about diagnosing and treating a potential sports hernia so that you can get back up to bat as soon as possible.

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