Robert Smith, Running Back for the Minnesota Vikings
The treatment plan depends on the severity of the injury. In most cases, the
treatment is rest, combined with an anti-inflammatory drug, ice, and a
strengthening program. This allows most athletes to fully recover and return to
their sports. If this fails and surgery is necessary, as in Smith's case, the
hiatus is closed surgically and then the patient can again rest the area, use
the anti-inflammatory drugs, ice, and the strengthening program. This will
obviously keep the athlete out of his sport for a longer period of time.
Fear of hernias is the main reason that athletes exercise the abdomen. The
stronger an athlete's abdominal musculature is, the more stable the lower
abdominal wall is and, as a result, the lesser the chance of injury. However,
if the player has a pre-existing weakness, there is little that he can do to
avoid an injury.
The recovery program and period vary depending on the athlete. For minor
sports hernias, an athlete may miss just 2-4 weeks. But if it is slightly more
serious, he may miss six weeks. If a surgical procedure is necessary, an
athlete may miss the entire season, and it may take 6-12 months before he is
back to full strength. It is a slow and gradual recovery. Smith has return to
playing but may still feel pain and weakness in the area, as with any other
athlete who suffers this injury.
Many athletes suffer no lingering effects from this type of injury. If the
athlete is treated properly, rests well, and lets the injury heal, he will most
likely be able to return to pre-injury form. If the athlete rushes back into
play too soon, he may hinder both his recovery and his play. Once an athlete
does return, however, he has a slightly increased chance of suffering a sports
hernia in the future.