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Sports Hernia: A Common Cause of Groin Pain

Pretty brunette suffering from stomach pain

If you’re an athlete or physically active person, you may have occasional aches and pains. When pain strikes in your lower abdomen or groin, your first thought may be that you’ve pulled a muscle. You try applying heat and ice, reduce your physical activity, and get as much rest as possible. But nothing seems to help.

Perhaps what you have isn’t a “pull” at all, but a tear. Certain professional athletes, as well as some active “weekend athletes,” are susceptible to a sports hernia, also known as athletic pubalgia. While most athletes think they’ve got a pulled groin muscle, they actually may have a tear in the area where the muscles meet the bones of the pelvis.

This type of injury is caused by repeated trauma to the groin area, resulting in muscle and tendons pulling away from the pubic bone. Sports hernias are common among athletes or anyone who participates in sports that involve repetitive twisting and turning while moving, such as soccer, ice hockey, rugby, field hockey, tennis, or track.

The injury isn’t limited to professional athletes, however. Anyone can develop a sports hernia, including people who do a lot of twisting and turning during a workout, or students who participate in high school or college sports. Females are just as susceptible as males.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The major complaint of people with a sports hernia is groin pain, which usually occurs during exercise or other physical activity. The pain may be worse with sudden movements such as sprinting, kicking, side-stepping, sneezing, or coughing.

This is chronic condition that may be misdiagnosed during an initial visit to a primary care physician for groin pain. The physician may recommend rest and applying heat and ice, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy. If these don’t relieve symptoms, the physician probably will refer the person to a specialist for further evaluation.

The best way to identify athletic pubalgia is by taking a thorough history and performing a physical exam. An MRI scan can often identify a tear, and a bone scan may reveal inflammation of the pubic bone.


Once athletic pubalgia is identified, the tear can be corrected surgically to reattach the muscles to the bone. A few years ago, the only way to repair the tear was to perform an open operation that involved a 5-inch incision in the abdomen and a recovery time of three months.

Today, the procedure can be performed using minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery. Laparoscopy uses three ¼-inch incisions to allow insertion of instruments used to visualize muscle damage and perform the repair. To reinforce the repair and make it stronger, a synthetic mesh-like material is used.

Compared to open surgery, laparoscopy results in a much shorter recovery time, less pain and need for pain medication, and minimal scarring. The shorter recovery time is a great help to athletes, who often can’t afford to take a lot of time off from their season.

With the minimally invasive procedure, patients are walking the day of the surgery, with no exercise during the first two weeks. During weeks two to four, they can resume aerobic activity such as biking or jogging. At four weeks, they can start lifting, sprinting, and resume playing their sport.

Open Surgery

Hospital stay–Same day
Pain during recovery—Moderate
Return to work time–4-6 weeks
Cosmetic results–5-inch scar

Laparoscopic Surgery

Hospital stay–Same day
Pain during recovery—Minimal
Return to work time–4-5 Days (full sports in 4 weeks)
Cosmetic results–Three ¼-inch scars

Lifetime Health Tips for Women

young fitness woman runner  running

As women age, their health needs change. Staying active and tailoring food intake to keep up with your changing body can help minimize unwanted weight gain and energy loss and possibly keep chronic diseases in check.

Follow these helpful tips for women’s wellness in each stage of adulthood.

Early 20s

Lower your chances of getting osteoporosis later by consuming more calcium now. Keep your bones strong by eating two to three servings of calcium-rich foods each day. Great choices are nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. One serving of milk or yogurt is 8 ounces or 1 cup; one serving of cheese is 1½ ounces.

Late 20s

One of the most important things women can do at this stage is to consume the recommended daily 400 micrograms of folate or folic acid, especially if you are planning a pregnancy. Folic acid is an essential B vitamin that protects babies in the womb from serious birth defects. Good sources of folate include green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, folic acid-fortified bread and cereal, and supplements.

Your 30s

A woman’s metabolism slows between 2 and 8 percent every decade, which means a 35-year-old woman needs 100 fewer calories a day than she did 10 years ago. To keep your weight steady, you will need to exercise more and eat less. It is important to remember that although you need to reduce your food intake, your body still needs nutrients. So, you may need to examine your diet and cut back on empty calories (soda, fast foods, fatty snacks) and eat more nutritious foods (fruits, vegetables and whole grains).

Your 40s and Beyond

As women age, muscle mass slowly begins to deteriorate and is replaced with fat. The best way to prevent age-related muscle loss is to make strength training and weight-bearing exercise a priority. Experts recommend that women over 40 do strength training exercises, including weight or resistance training, at least twice a week, and weight bearing aerobic exercises, including swimming, walking, and dancing, at least five times a week.

One of the best things for women’s health

At any age, exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. The key to staying active is finding something you enjoy that fits into your daily schedule. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do – inline skating, running, walking, dancing, household chores, or gardening – as long as you do it regularly.

Experts recommend that you do 30 minutes or more of physical activity a day, at least five times a week. The benefits of exercise are manifold. Exercise promotes weight control, improves your strength and flexibility, lowers your risk of heart disease, helps control blood pressure and diabetes, relieves stress, and improves your mood and the way you feel about yourself.  And what woman wouldn’t like more of that?

When Medications & Sunshine Don’t Mix


One of the most common side effects of medications is an increased risk of photosensitivity, or sensitivity to sunlight. This is caused when Ultraviolet (UV) light rays activate certain photosensitizing elements within the medication. These elements then emit energy that can damage adjacent skin tissue.

People experiencing photosensitivity due to medications generally experience a burning and stinging sensation to the skin followed by intensified redness. The range of damage on sun-exposed skin can range from a slight redness to a blistering rash.

If you are taking a medication that states photosensitivity as a potential side effect, be sure to avoid direct exposure from natural sunlight as well as tanning beds. Wear sun-protective clothing when going outdoors and use a UV-A and UV-B combination sunscreen with at least SPF 15.

There are many common prescriptions that cause photosensitivity. Some of the most common medications include:

  • Antibiotics such as Tetracyclines or Sulfonamides
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen and Naproxen
  • Antidepressants including citalopram, bupropion and fluoxetine
  • Blood pressure lowering medications such as Lisinopril, labetolol, hydralazine and other diuretics
  • Medications designed to lower blood sugar including glimepiride, glyburide and glipizide
  • Anti-fungals such as ketoconazole and griseofulvin
  • Medications used for sleep, seizures and mental health including alprazolam, quetiapine, zolpidem and gabapentin
  • Dietary supplements such as St. John’s wort and Vitamin A
  • Many more groups including cholesterol lowing medications and estrogens

Whenever you are taking a prescribed medication, be sure to pay attention to potential side effects.

If a mild reaction occurs, topical remedies such as cool wet dressings, anti-itch creams and corticosteroid creams can help. If symptoms continue, be sure to check in with your prescribing physician.

Water Safety in Wisconsin

water safety

As a Wisconsinite, summer months can mean everything to you. Long winters and cold springs drive us to water parks, lakes and rivers when warmer weather hits. Unfortunately this makes summer a high time for water accidents, injuries and fatalities.

The latest research shows the number of drowning deaths is falling, but not for all age groups. Learn how you can help protect yourself, family and friends this season with these safe, responsible water safety tips and resources.

Pool Safety Tips

Having a pool or hot tub in the backyard increases the risk for water injuries and drowning. If you or someone you know has a pool, follow these tips:

  • Install a four-foot fence with a self-latching gate around the pool.
  • Add pool, door or gate alarms and an automatic pool cover.
  • Remove ladders, steps and toys when the pool is not in use.
  • Empty blow-up pools after each use and put them away.
  • Be no more than an arm’s length away from a child in the pool.
  • Wear a life jacket, especially little ones and inexperienced swimmers.
  • Take additional swimming lessons, even as an adult.
  • Learn first aid and CPR.
  • Keep a phone near the pool for emergency use.
  • Maintain the pool and chemicals to keep the pool clean and safe.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from the pool to prevent electric shock.
  • Create and enforce rules for the pool, such as no diving, no running, only swimming with a buddy and staying away from the drain.

Water Safety Tips for All Ages

Drowning isn’t just a safety issue for children. It can happen to anyone at any age. Help keep drowning deaths down by following these steps:

  • Learn how to swim.
  • Swim with a buddy.
  • Avoid places without a lifeguard on duty.
  • Teach children to ask first about entering the water.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while swimming.
  • Adhere to beach swimming regulations, warnings and conditions.
  • Avoid bodies of water that are choppy, rough or filled with debris.
  • Always wear an appropriate-sized life jacket when boating.

In Case of an Emergency…

Even when you try to stay safe in and around water, drowning can still happen, and quickly. In case of an emergency, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the person from the water right away and check if he or she is breathing.
  2. If the person isn’t breathing, begin CPR immediately. Don’t waste time seeking emergency medical help. If others are present, ask them to call 911. The victim may spit up swallowed water while you are doing CPR.
  3. Continue CPR until the person starts breathing again or medical personnel arrive.

8 Tips to Get More Exercise on the Job

exercise ball

Find yourself stuck to a chair all day? Inactivity can lead to headaches, back aches and brain drain.

If your job requires long hours of sitting, try these 8 tips for adding a boost of fitness to your day:

  1. Set an alarm every hour reminding you to get up and move around. Just standing up, stretching and waving your arms will help you feel more alert.
  2. Sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair. They’re great for toning the abs and improving posture.
  3. Use the restroom on a different floor or across the building. Extra steps add up.
  4. Deliver documents in person instead of by inter-office mail.
  5. Lift dumbbells while on the phone. Water bottles or soup cans work just as well.
  6. Going out for lunch? Choose a restaurant within walking distance, or go to the mall food court and park furthest from the door.
  7. Walking clubs aren’t just for lunch hours. Why not arrive 20 minutes early and start the day with a brisk stroll?
  8. Suggest standing or walking meetings.

Be creative! Any extra movement is a bonus.

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.