Sportsman's hernia is an increasingly recognized cause of chronic groin pain in athletes. Although the definition is controversial, it is a condition of chronic inguinal/pubic exertional pain caused by rectus abdominal wall weakness or injury without a palpable hernia, usually affecting high-performance male athletes. Diagnosis is made after careful history and physical examination. Some radiographic studies such as ultrasound or MRI may be helpful in evaluating these patients and ruling out other pathology, although no radiographic study can rule out sportsman's hernias. Because sports hernias are not true hernias but an injury in the rectus insertion, unilateral or bilateral rectus reattachment is the most appropriate surgical treatment. This reattachment may be done in combination with adductor release in the setting of adductor pain or weakness on physical examination. Other surgical repairs (eg, Lichtenstein, Shouldice, Kugel, laparoscopic) do not stabilize the pelvis and tend not to be as successful. In the motivated patient, after surgical repair and physical rehabilitation, 95% are free of pain and able to return to competitive sports.
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