Background and purpose: In elite athletes, osteitis pubis is a common painful degenerative process of the pubic symphysis and surrounding soft tissues and tendons. We report the diagnostic pathway and the rehabilitation protocol of six elite athletes with osteitis pubis in three different sports, and compare protocol stages and time to return to competition.
Methods: 6 athletes (2 soccer, 2 basketball, 2 rugby players) were diagnosed with osteitis pubis stage III and IV according to Rodriguez classification using standard clinical and imaging criteria. After performing a baseline lumbo-pelvic assessment, the rehabilitation protocol described by Verrall was adapted to each individual athlete.
Results: The length of time for each stage of the protocol was as follows; Stage 1 (rest from sport) was 26 +/- 5 days, Stage 2 (to achieve pain free running), 18 +/- 5 days, Stage 3 (squad training) 63 +/- 7, Stage 4 (return to competition) 86 +/- 15. Soccer players took longer to return to competition than basketball and rugby players. No recurrences were reported at 2 year follow-up.
Conclusion: The protocol presented ensures a safe return to elite athletes. The time from diagnosis to full recovery is longer in football players, and seems to increase with age.
Keywords: Lumbo-pelvic stabilization; Osteitis pubis; Rehabilitation; sport.