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Hernia & Groin Injuries

Hernia & Groin Injuries

In addition to back injuries, which typically involve the spine, a hernia can also affect the lower body region within the abdomen area but are typically unrelated. A hernia occurs as a result of a weakness of the internal tissue wall which house the internal organs, but like back injuries can occur as a result of heavy lifting.

About Hernias

A weakness in the muscle or surrounding tissue area within the lower body can lead to internal parts pushing through, which is known as a hernia. This can occur anywhere within the abdomen with differing type’s dependant on the area concerned and the internal parts of the body pushing through.

An Umbilical hernia occurs where fatty tissue or parts of your bowel can poke through your abdomen in the vicinity of the navel or belly button. Other types of hernia see the condition affecting the groin, lower abdomen, and diaphragm. The condition can affect any age group, though the most common form of hernia is that of Inguinal, where part of the bowel pokes through the abdomen and into the groin.

Surgery can be common among hernia sufferers, though the location of the hernia, your symptoms and its contents will all play about in this decision. Specialist hernia braces and supports are available which are designed to offer compression to the affected area to stabilise it and prevent it from popping out, which can allow you to carry on daily life.

About Groin Injuries

Similar to hamstring strains, groin pain can develop during sports such as football and sprinting. The muscles on the inside of the thigh are commonly known as the groin muscles and act to pull the legs together. If the pain does not improve quickly you should see your doctor who can properly assess the groin injury and may refer you to a physiotherapist. Correct stretching and conditioning of the muscles can help to minimise the risk of injury.

Types of Hernia & Groin Injuries

Inguinal Hernia

Inguinal Hernia

Groin problems and hernias of varying types are extremely common injuries which are often associated with playing sports, when the pelvic region is subjected to significant twisting (torsional) loads. A hernia arises when an inner part of the body pushes through a weakness in the tissue wall or muscle that surrounds the area. An inguinal hernia is the most commonly presenting hernia, and it occurs when a section of the abdominal contents protrudes through a weakened area of connective tissue in the groin — specifically in the inguinal canal.

Symptoms

There are several symptoms that point to the diagnosis of inguinal hernia. These include groin or abdominal hernia pain, often following sport, that progressively worsens over time. This hernia pain is generally worse when sneezing or coughing, and pain in the groin presents when the legs are squeezed together. A hernia support belt can be useful at this stage as it allows pressure to be applied to the affected area, which helps to both lessen the hernia pain and to stop it bulging out.

Diagnosis

Hernia pain can present suddenly and severely. If you suspect you have sustained a hernia, you should always seek immediate medical advice. Luckily, with modern treatment the problem is in most cases speedily corrected. With good aftercare, including a hernia support, it should not disrupt your life for too long.

Management

Typically, an inguinal hernia repair is undertaken through surgery. This is no longer the worrying prospect it once was, as surgery for this condition has been positively revolutionised in recent years. It is now a relatively simple and routine procedure that is often performed through a keyhole incision under local anaesthetic. With careful reference to the patient’s specific circumstances, a tailored surgical technique will be selected by the surgeon, and in straightforward cases the operation is a quick and simple one. A more complicated presentation may require a more invasive technique. However, in the majority of cases, rehabilitation after hernia surgery is implemented quickly — in many cases the day after the repair is performed. The wearing of a hernia support belt is often recommended at this stage. These elasticated belts are designed to protect and support the area whilst you get back on your feet.

You should follow the hospital’s care instructions to the letter once you are discharged. You will need to keep your wound clean and dry, eat healthily and avoid straining yourself by doing too much too soon. Most patients are fully recovered from their hernia repair surgery in six week or less — sooner for those who have had the keyhole procedure.

Some hernias will reoccur at the same site, so it is important to be watchful for the first warning systems. If you observe any recurring symptoms, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Groin Strain (Adductor Strain)

Groin Strain (Adductor Strain)

Strains to the body’s five abductor muscles in the inner thigh are some of the most common sporting injuries, particularly amongst footballers.

Wearing compression shorts can be a good way to prevent a groin or adductor strain, by regulating muscle temperature, along with reducing muscle movement and vibration should an injury occur.

Causes

A groin strain involves one of the abductor muscles; the abductor brevis, longus, magnus, gracilis, or pectineus. It is usually caused by the muscle being stretched forcibly beyond its normal limits. This causes the muscle to tear, which is described as groin strain. The injury is then classed as a first degree, second degree, or third degree strain depending on how much damage is done. A small number of muscle fibres damaged constitutes a first degree strain, followed by damage to more fibres, and then to the rupturing of the entire muscle.

Symptoms

You may not realise you have suffered a grade one strain until after you have finished whatever activity you are doing. Then you may think you have a cramp or experience a tightening and a small amount of pain during muscle stretches or contractions. In the case of a grade two groin strain, you will experience immediate and more severe pain, which will continue and may worsen when you walk. Stretching and contracting the muscle will hurt and it will often be sore to the touch.

It is quite rare to suffer a grade three strain in the abductors but if you do, there will be an immediate stabbing or burning pain and you will not be able to walk without it hurting. In both second and third grade injuries, there will be a bruise just below the site of the injury, which appears after a day or two and indicates bleeding in the tissue.

Management

Use ice packs to reduce bleeding and relieve pain. These can be applied for 20 minute periods at two hourly intervals and can help to speed up recovery. Rest is also important to prevent the injury from worsening. Experts advise resting for at least three weeks if you suffer a grade one strain and between four and six weeks if you experience a grade two injury. A complete rupture of the muscle will call for a consultation with an orthopaedic doctor. In severe case, surgery will be needed to repair the torn muscle. If this is necessary, the rehabilitation time is likely to be around three months.

Compression shorts can help to maintain the temperature of your muscles, reducing the likelihood of groin strain occurring. This is especially important during cold weather. It is also essential to warm up properly before taking part in any activity and to cool down afterwards. Warming up and keeping your muscles warm makes them more stretchable. You can also try keeping your carbohydrate levels up during activity by using gels and energy bars to help fight fatigue and you can do core strengthening exercises, such as those using a Swiss ball.

Gilmore's Groin

Gilmore's Groin

Causes

If you regularly play football, rugby or any other type of ‘kicking’ sport, then you are likely to be more prone to an injury known as gilmore’s groin - also referred to as a sports hernia. It’s named after the doctor who first recognised the condition, and refers to tissue damage and tears to your oblique muscles.

Symptoms

Pain during movement when you play sport can often be hernia pain and you will notice this in particular when you are twisting or turning. You will generally feel sore after playing the sport, and could notice stiffness the next day when you are trying to do normal activities like getting out of bed or the car. Sneezing and coughing can also cause pain. You should use a hernia support if you play further sport, although it is usually a good idea to rest from these activities for a while.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will be able to make a formal diagnosis after examining you, so at the first sign of hernia pain you need to make an appointment with your GP. They will usually refer you to a physiotherapist, who can show you strengthening and stabilising exercises, including those to focus on your core strength. Using the right type of support, you can usually carry on playing sports for a while, but if the symptoms continue to worsen you will need to be referred for surgery.

Management

Following surgery you need to follow a rigorous programme of rehabilitation in order for the results to be successful. This means no sudden twisting and turning, lots of walking, a good posture and a gradual reintroduction to your sport to avoid further hernia pain.

Keeping up your core strength is a key part of improving your muscle function. This includes exercises such as Pilates, which focus on creating a strong centre. As stiffness and soreness is often present the day after sports, it’s a good idea to keep active every day. Even if you aren’t playing sports, some gentle walking or toning exercises can help to keep you supple and prevent further injury.

The right type of hernia support can help immensely with hernia pain and can help you carry on playing sports until you undergo surgery. These include things such as compression shorts, which can help to support and strengthen your centre, reducing the risk of sudden movements or twists causing further pain.

When playing any sport or exercising it is also recommended to start off gradually, warming up and cooling down properly and not pushing yourself too far too soon. Listen to your body, take expert advice and if necessary take some coaching or lessons to make sure you are carrying out the activity safely and effectively and reducing your risk of injury.

Hernia & Groin pain can be a serious problem for those affected, but there are a number of options available in terms of supports and braces to help limit its impact on daily life.

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