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Sportsman’s hernia may be treated by injection

Jun 1st, 2012
Staff writer

Twisting movements can cause sportsman's hernia.Sportsman’s hernia is a common condition among athletes that typically involves surgery to correct. However, it may be possible to treat the condition with an injection of corticosteroids, researchers reported Thursday.

Doctors were able to use ultrasound-guided corticosteroid injections to treat sportsman’s hernia, they reported at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in San Francisco. Sportsman’s hernia is also called athletic pubalgia. It’s a weakening of the muscles or tendons in the lower abdominal wall. The condition can cause debilitating pain and discomfort in the groin area.

The condition often occurs in sports that require a lot of twisting and turning while moving forward—such as hockey, skating, soccer and tennis. The repetitive motion may result in athletic pubalgia.  Traditionally, the condition is treated with surgery. But a minimally invasive treatment is needed, said Dr. Alex Fokin, the lead author of the study and an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital.

 “Rehabilitation from surgery can take on average eight weeks,” Fokin said. “Since the injury is so common, knowing ultrasound-guided injections are another option for treatment will be beneficial for patients looking to speed up the recovery time with something effective, yet less invasive than surgery.” 

In the study, 12 patients diagnosed with athletic pubalgia underwent targeted ultrasound of their painful groins. The ultrasound revealed damage or a tear around the insertion site of the abdomen or hip. The patients were then treated with an injection of a steroid and anesthetic mixture.

The patients were evaluated after the procedure and fared well overall. However, more research will be needed to assess whether the technique is an equally effective and safe alternative to surgery.