Core Muscle Injury Physio

A core muscle injury usually occurs where the abdominal muscles attach in your pelvis.

Core muscle injury, which are often misdiagnosed as sports hernia (athletic pubalgia), is a common injury to sports men and women who play soccer / football, hockey, rugby and even track running. Nonathletes and the casual workouts can also get this injury.

It’s moreso common in men compared to women, and interestingly, 94% of these type of core muscle injuries happen without known reasons or caused. The remaining 6%? Is by specific injuries and accidents such as

  • pivoting / turning the body at high speeds
  • strong sudden twisting or kicking

First off, what’s a core muscle injury?

The common misdiagnoses (or mislabelling, at least) of core muscle injuries are core muscle injuries (also known as athletic pubalgia), but frankly, core muscle injuries does not fall into the definition of a hernia. A hernia refers to organs or soft tissue that protudes outside of its usual space.

For sports hernia, there’s no defects in the abdominal wall OR herniation of the abdominal contents — injuries are tears and weakening of the deep abdominal wall due to

  • Repetitive hip / pelvic movements (usually in sports or dance)
  • Muscle imbalances between the hip and abdominal muscles
  • Overtraining, lack of training and weakness of the abdominal may cause or aggravate this injury

There’s nothing protuding in core muscle injuries, but moreso a muscle or tendon of the hip would be partially or fully torn.

Is it painful? What does it usually feel like?

Oftentimes athletic individuals who are accustomed to discomfort and pain, they dont realize that it’s actually an injury, and they can misunderstand it to be a post-workout ache, but most patients report feeling a general ache in their groin.

This type of injury can hinder training and partipating in competitions for up to 18% of athletes! Which is a fairly high number. Another symptom is sharp groin pain with exertion. Pain often occurs specificly with

  • strong / intense kicking
  • strong / intense body twist
  • strong / intense running or sprinting
  • plant-cut maneuvers

The good news is that these acute pains typically improves with rest.

With core muscle injuries, patients report:

  • pain on one side of the groin
  • pain that can travel to the inner thigh
  • tenderness with pressure to the strained groin area
  • no pain at rest or leisure
  • pain with sit-ups
  • painful sneezing or strong coughing
  • specific sharp pain in groin with running, sprinting, pivoting, twisting or kicking

If you have groin pain that isn’t getting better, it may be something serious involving organs — do visit your doctor as soon as possible.

How to diagnose core muscle injuries?

A physio will assess

  • strength, flexibility and length of your hip / thigh muscles
  • if you can isolate, contract specific muscles
  • test for knee or back pains and injuries

We may also ask if:

  • have / had groin pains with kicking, pivoting or sprinting
  • injuries to hip, groin or lower back
  • recent core / ab strengthening program
  • groin pains with sneezing or sitting up or with sports
  • recall particular accident or movement when the pain first happened

The clearest diagnosis can be done with an imaging MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to tell for sure what kind of injury you have, if it’s a groin, core, hip, lower back, pelvis (or even all of the above)

How physiotherapy can help

Non-surgical core muscle injuries are typically treated with prescribed rest plus physiotherapy; but severe cases may need corrective surgery to stabilize torn structures.

Physiotherapy will focus on treating and managing the core issues highlighted during assessment, most of the time it’d be

  1. poor hip strength
  2. poor hip flexibility
  3. reduced ability to activate or turn the abdominal muscles
  4. poor core stability

Ideally, physiotherapy sessions are done with minimal to no pain (we also dont like pain). You’d need to avoid activities or movements that cause any forms of groin pain. We may also employ cold therapy for pain relief and to bring down any swelling or inflammation.

Your physiotherapy treatments may include:

  • Cold therapy and compression between sessions or whenever there’s pain / inflammation
  • Gentle stretching to get your non affect muscles moving, and to gently move your injured structures. We’ll demonstrate and show you how, so dont worry if you dont know how to do it yet.
  • Muscle retraining**. This is a very important part of core and hip muscle physiotherapy: to be able to voluntarily activate the muscles that is injured, especially after injuries.
  • Strengthening will start one the injury and structures are stable and ready for strengthening, and with lower levels of pain.
  • Manual therapy hands-on such as mobilization, manipulation, soft tissue management etc to improve joint, soft tissue and muscle health
  • Sports-specific drillsĀ will start once your injury have healed and is stable, without pain during treatment. We can include or train specific to return to activities and sports you love.

Where To Next?

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