Sportsman’s hernia (Gilmore’s groin)
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Sportsman’s hernia (Gilmore’s groin) Symptoms & Treatment

What is it?

Sportsman’s hernia or Gilmore’s groin is a painful injury to soft tissue in the groin close to the midline.

How is it caused?

This type of injury is usually caused by intense twisting or sudden changes of direction, for example in sports such as football, ice hockey, or wrestling. This results in a tear or strain to muscles, tendons or ligaments in the groin area just where the muscles of the abdominal wall join the pelvis.

What are the symptoms?

These include extreme pain in the groin when the injury occurs, which improves with rest but returns during sports that involve twisting, turning and kicking. Although it does not bulge, in time it can lead to an inguinal hernia and, without treatment, it can result in chronic (long term) pain that prevents you from carrying on with sports.

How is it diagnosed?

Sportsman’s hernia can usually be diagnosed during a medical examination after a discussion of how the injury took place. You may also have an MRI scan to back up the diagnosis.

How is it treated?

Non-operative treatment: you will usually be advised to rest for up to 10 days, applying ice (crushed and wrapped in a towel) at regular intervals and taking anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling. You may also be given a rehabilitation programme of gentle exercises to improve your strength and flexibility in the abdomen and inner thigh. After around six weeks, most people can gradually return to sports.

Surgery: if non-operative treatment doesn’t relieve your symptoms, you may be offered surgery to repair and strengthen torn tissues in the groin. Your specialist will be able to advise whether you should have this procedure which is usually carried out using arthoscopy to repair the tear; or using open surgery, which can be more successful in some cases.

Important

This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Every person is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you are worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.