Non-surgical treatment of a professional hockey player with the signs and symptoms of sports hernia: a case report

Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Feb;7(1):85-100.


Study design: Case Report

Background: Injury or weakness of lower abdominal attachments and the posterior inguinal wall can be symptoms of a "sports hernia" and an underlying source of groin pain. Although several authors note conservative treatment as the initial step in the management of this condition, very little has been written on the specific description of non-surgical measures. Most published articles favoring operative care describe poor results related to conservative management; however they fail to report what treatment techniques comprise non-operative management.

Case presentation: The subject of this case report is a professional ice hockey player who sustained an abdominal injury in a game, which was diagnosed as a sports hernia. Following the injury, structured conservative treatment emphasized core control and stability with progressive peripheral demand challenges. Intrinsic core control emphasis continued throughout the treatment progression and during the functional training prior to return to sport.

Outcome: The player completed his recovery with return to full competition seven weeks post injury, and continues to compete in the NHL seven years later.

Discussion: Surgical intervention has been shown to be effective in the treatment of the "sports hernia." However it is the authors' opinion that conservative care emphasizing evaluation of intrinsic core muscular deficits and rehabilitation directed at addressing these deficits is an appropriate option, and should be considered prior to surgical intervention.

Keywords: groin pain; non-surgical treatment; sports hernia.