Sports hernia: diagnosis and therapeutic approach

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2007 Aug;15(8):507-14. doi: 10.5435/00124635-200708000-00007.


Groin pain is a common entity in athletes involved in soccer, ice hockey, Australian Rules football, skiing, running, and hurdling. An increasingly recognized cause of groin pain in these athletes is a sports hernia, an occult hernia caused by weakness or tear of the posterior inguinal wall, without a clinically recognizable hernia, that leads to a condition of chronic groin pain. The patient typically presents with an insidious onset of activity-related, unilateral, deep groin pain that abates with rest. Although the physical examination reveals no detectable inguinal hernia, a tender, dilated superficial inguinal ring and tenderness of the posterior wall of the inguinal canal are found. The role of imaging studies in this condition is unclear; most imaging studies will be normal. Unlike most other types of groin pain, sports hernias rarely improve with nonsurgical measures; thus, open or laparoscopic herniorrhaphy should be considered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / complications*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Groin
  • Hernia, Inguinal* / diagnosis
  • Hernia, Inguinal* / etiology
  • Hernia, Inguinal* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome