Common Hip Disorder May Raise Risk for Sports Hernia

Doctors who observe groin pain in athletes should check for the condition, researcher says

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FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- A common type of athletic hip disorder may increase the risk of a sports hernia, according to a new study.

Sports hernias, a tear of the oblique abdominal muscles, are a common cause of groin pain in athletes. Until recently, however, little was known about why they occur. This study suggests that a condition called femoral acetabular impingement -- essentially friction between the hip ball and socket -- may be a contributing factor.

Researchers in the orthopedics department at the University of Virginia reviewed the records of 43 patients who underwent surgery to repair sports hernias between 1999 and 2011. Of those patients, 37 (86 percent) showed evidence of some form of femoral acetabular impingement on MRI, CT scans or X-rays.

The study was scheduled for presentation Friday at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine in Baltimore.

"Our study illustrated that those patients with [femoral acetabular impingement] tend to have a change in hip biomechanics, which, in turn, leads to increased stress across the groin," study lead author Dr. Kostas Economopoulos said in a society news release. "With these stresses, a sports hernia is more likely to occur."

"We hope our study encourages physicians who see sports hernia and chronic groin pain in athletes to further investigate the possibility of [femoral acetabular impingement], and, in turn, can recommend better treatment options for this puzzling condition," added Economopoulos.

Although the study showed an association between femoral acetabular impingement and increased instances of sports hernias, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Data and results presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about sports hernias.

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