Speedy Athletic Hernia Repair Is Possible

MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Surgical repair of sports hernias using a special tension-free mesh, combined with a well-structured rehabilitation program, helps hasten injured athletes' return to competition, according to a U.S. study of more than 60 athletic hernia repair surgeries.

People with athletic hernias experience exertion-related pain in the lower abdominal and groin region.

"Using a tension-free mesh repair and a standardized rehabilitation protocol, we have successfully returned athletes to competition in more than 90 percent of cases," principal investigator Dr. L. Michael Brunt, professor of surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said in a prepared statement.

The study was to have been presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The multi-step, graduated rehabilitation program used in the study starts with early ambulation and motion and works toward resistance and core muscle-building. That's followed by speed and functional activities, the experts said.

"The three main groups of athletes who develop athletic hernias are hockey, soccer and football players. Sprinting, kicking, and skating are the activities that appear to be most problematic," Brunt said.

"The athletes we see have usually undergone an extensive period of conservative management and, having failed that, should be considered for surgical repair. On average, athletes in our series had experienced symptoms for more than eight months before undergoing surgery," Brunt added.

More information

The University of Michigan Health System has more about athletic hernias.

SOURCE: American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, news release, July 15, 2007