Osteitis pubis in elite athletes: Diagnostic and therapeutic approach

World J Orthop. 2015 Oct 18;6(9):672-9. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v6.i9.672.


Osteitis pubis (OP) is a debilitating overuse syndrome characterizing by pelvic pain and local tenderness over the pubic symphysis commonly encountered in athletes often involved in kicking, twisting and cutting activities in sports such as soccer and rugby and to a lesser degree distance running. It is a common source of groin pain in elite athletes attributable to pubis sympysis instability as the result of microtrauma caused by repetitive muscle strains on pubic bones. Diagnosis is based mainly on detailed sports history and a meticulous clinical examination, although occasionally is difficult to distinguish this nosological entity from other pathologies affecting the involved area which may occur concomitantly in the same patient. Radiologic examinations such as plain radiographs, magnetic resonance imaging and 3 phase bone isotope scanning may be helpful to differentiate from other clinical entities with similar clinical presentation. Most cases respond well to conservative treatment which includes several physical modalities and especially a progressive rehabilitation programmed individualized to each one of patients diagnosed with OP. Local injection therapies have been also been proposed as a non-operative therapeutic option for the efficient management of these patients. In refractory cases, surgical therapeutic strategies are warranted. These include several open or minimally invasive surgical interventions such as arthroscopic or open symphysis curettage, wedge or total resection of pubic sympysis, polypropylene mesh placement and pubic fusion. In this review a critical analysis of OP in elite athletes is performed with special focus on current concepts of diagnosis and management of this source of athletic groin pain.

Keywords: Conservative management; Groin pain; Osteitis pubis; Sports overuse injuries; Surgery.