If you're a ballet dancer, you probably think sports hernias are the purview of football and hockey players, right? Wrong. Ballet dancers, male and female, are both artists and athletes and are also at risk for this misunderstood and often misdiagnosed injury. Read on to learn more about sports hernias, including their treatment and prevention.
What Is a Sports Hernia?
Sports hernias usually start out as a pain in the lower abdominal area near the pubic region. You may take time off and ice it, only to have the pain (and sometimes nausea) return the minute you resume activity.
What you have is a weakening of the abdominal wall, but because this type of hernia produces no hole through which organs can protrude, as with a classic inguinal hernia, it is often misdiagnosed as a groin pull. A sports hernia, also called athletic pubalgia syndrome (APS) with inguinal disruption, sometimes doesn't even show up on an MRI.
If the injury goes undiagnosed for long enough, the pain can become worse, due to increased muscle damage. In some cases, this can even end dance careers.
What Causes Sports Hernias?
Sports hernias, or APS, are most often seen in athletes who perform abrupt changes of direction and who do a lot of twisting movements in their sport. While they can occur in women, they also often plague male dancers, who typically have to both lift their partners and twist at the same time.
There are several known causes of sports hernias:
How Are Sports Hernias Treated and Prevented?
Sports hernias can sometimes be treated with physical therapy, but this is only recommended if the injury is fairly new and the chance of damage is minimal. Physical therapy can also take a long time, and there can be setbacks if you return to dancing too soon.
This type of hernia can also be successfully treated with hernia surgery. While laparoscopic procedures through the belly button with a mesh can sometimes work, many physicians also perform open surgery with a longer incision. With open surgery, they can evaluate the injury better and repair any muscle, tendon, or nerve damage more easily.
Depending on your injury, your level of fitness, and your surgeon, your recovery time may vary. Post-op rehab typically involves a gradual return to athletic activity, along with some physical therapy to strengthen the injured area and prevent a recurrence.
Prevention of APS in dancers is, of course, everyone's first choice. Strengthening your core, especially the oblique abdominal muscles, and stretching properly are key. Pilates and yoga make good accompaniments to ballet to accomplish this.
Every dancer is looking for the perfect partnership. Doing a pas de deux with a sports hernia isn't it. Work on preventing APS in the first place, and pay attention to pain if you have symptoms of a sports hernia. Consulting a physician who understands this injury in dancers just might save your career.Share
9 March 2015
Having a daughter comes with a number of challenges. One challenge that you will one day need to tackle is determining when to introduce your daughter to the gynecologist. Do you take your daughter to the same gynecologist that you see or take her somewhere else? Do you wait until she gets her first period or do you take her in to learn about the menstrual cycle from the doctor? There is a long list of questions you likely have about introducing your daughter to the world of gynecology. Having gone through this twice myself, I have learned quite a bit and have included a lot of helpful information in my site to help other parents get through this complicated time a little easier.