What Is Gilmore's Groin?

H. Colledge

Gilmore's groin, also known as sportsman's hernia, was first described in 1980 by a surgeon called OJ Gilmore. The name sportsman's hernia is misleading because there is no true hernia associated with the condition. Patients with Gilmore's groin have one-sided, persistent groin pain. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, and some doctors think there could be several causes. Surgery can offer an effective treatment, and it is typically followed by an intensive rehabilitation program.

Those with Gilmore's groin may have trouble moving their hip joints.
Those with Gilmore's groin may have trouble moving their hip joints.

Players of sports such as hockey and soccer, which place strain on the groin through running, turning, twisting and kicking, are most likely to develop Gilmore's groin. Male athletes are more commonly affected by the condition than females. Once it has developed, the groin pain associated with the disorder is also made worse by continuing vigorous activities. Typically, patients experience pain and stiffness in the evening after a sporting event and during the following morning. In two thirds of cases, the pain of Gilmore's groin gradually develops, while a third of patients notice it beginning suddenly.

Surgery may be required to treat Gilmore's groin.
Surgery may be required to treat Gilmore's groin.

Diagnosing Gilmore's groin first involves examining the patient. Usually, a structure known as the superficial inguinal ring is dilated. The superficial inguinal ring is an opening in the external oblique muscle in the lower abdomen, and the doctor is able to feel this opening through the skin. It enlarges when tears develop in both the external oblique muscle and the tissue band to which it joins, known as the conjoint tendon.

While a patient is being examined, the area around part of the pubic bone, known as the pubic tubercle, often feels painful to the touch. This can be another important sign of Gilmore's groin. Some patients have obvious muscle weakness which interferes with a movement of the hip joint known as adduction, where the leg moves inward. This can result from torn adductor muscles, which are found in around 40 percent of cases.

Treating Gilmore's groin can involve a program of muscle-strengthening exercises at first but if these fail to help the condition, surgery becomes necessary. During surgery, all the layers of torn abdominal muscle are repaired. Patients then take part in a rehabilitation program of around four to six weeks, completing four stages of exercises. The outlook for those who are surgically treated for Gilmore's groin is positive. Most patients are able to resume sporting activities around ten weeks after surgery, and it is rare for the condition to recur.

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