Groin injuries in Athletes

Groin injuries are typically associated with athletes involved in multi-directional fast paced sports such as Hurling and Football.

The incidence of groin injuries in elite Gaelic footballers was shown to be as high as 9% (Murphy et al, 2012).

There are many different causes of groin pain in the sporting athlete, the most common diagnoses including acute groin strains, adductor tendinopathy and osteitis pubis. It can be an extremely debilitating injury associated prolonged periods on the sideline. There are many structures around the hip and groin region that must be considered when managing a groin injury, for instance there are 5 different muscles that act as adductors of the hip. When too much pressure is put on a certain part of the pelvis during movement this can lead to failure of other local tissues. This is often seen in sport when players have an unusual way of cutting/turning which can become problematic over time, thus leading to a groin injury as an example.

Red flags for groin injury often seen in GAA are limited hip ROM, reduced groin strength (groin squeeze) and poor lumbopelvic control, characterised by a player leaning excessively over their planting foot during a cutting movement.

Treatment begins with accurate diagnosis of the pathology as without clarifying the exact cause it is hard to implement a fully functional rehab programme due to the complexity of the hip/groin region. Muscle control and de-loading of affected tissues are two components that I like to focus on when approaching these injuries initially. It is important to introduce sports specific drills when suitable especially in multidirectional sports as the groin muscle has a massive role in decelerating the hip movements during quick turns.

 

Paddy Hannon, MISCP


Groin Injury Screening In Gaelic Football

 
The role of musculoskeletal screening has been a hot topic in recent time, see here, with the debate on the validity and efficacy of some tools. It can cause serious confusion for some clinicians on whats the most effective strategies to put into place, what is worth measuring etc.
The past 10 years clinicians have been sold false promises on the role of the FMS and other such tools in predicting and preventing injuries.
And while we shouldn’t abandon the screening process to reduce injuries, we need to be a bit more aware on what they actually measure and does it even help the clinician? 
 
A recent paper by the group led by Dr. Eamonn Delahunt has looked at the adductor squeeze test and the Copenhagen Hip and Groin Outcome Score (HAGOS) questionnaire to assess its ability to identify Gaelic Football players at risk of developing groin injury. There was 55 players within the cohort and they where followed over a 9 month period. The chartered Physiotherapist during pre-season as part of an injury screening evaluation included both the adductor squeeze test and HAGOS. No groin injuries or other injuries where found during the pre-season testing. 
 
Results revealed a significant difference in pre-season adductor squeeze test scores between those players who did (median = 210 mmHg, n = 10) and did not (median = 260 mmHg, n = 45) sustain a groin injury, U= 107.5, z =  2.58, p = 0.01, r = 0.35.
The optimal cut point for the squeeze test to discriminate between players who did and did not sustain a groin injury, to be 225 mmHg. 
 
Results of the Mann-Whitney Test revealed a significant difference in pre-season HAGOS function,sport and recreation subscale scores between those players who did (median=76.56, n=10) and did not (median=96.87, n=45) sustain a groin injury, U=114.5, z=2.48, p=0.01, r=0.33. With regard to the HAGOS function,sport and recreation subscale score, the cut point with maximal sensitivity (0.70) and specificity (0.73) to discriminate between players who did and did not sustain a groin injury was 87.50.
 
What should be of great interest to clinicians when reading this study is both the ease to administer of both tests and the cost-effectiveness. Unlike many studies which look at expensive and time-heavy methods, these are available to all clinicians with no heavy burden also. While the relative sample size was small, it does give clinicians both some normative data and cut off points to make some meaningful decisions within the team setting. It may also allow the clinicians to individualise both Strength and Conditioning programs and injury prevention methods within a group setting. 
Thomas Divilly

Acute Groin Injuries in Gaelic Football

We recently had the pleasure of having Mark Roe present on the “Managing Injury Risk when Performance is the Focus” in Sports Physio Ireland as part of our Educational Seminars. A lot of the data presented was related to the GAA, which is highly relevant as they would make up most of the sporting population that Physiotherapist’s and Sport Therapist’s would see in the clinic setting. A few things really stood out in the seminar, mainly the injury burden that some injuries have on Gaelic Football and Hurling.

Mark presented data that showed that Groin injuries accounted for 14% of the total injury incidence in Gaelic Football, with adductor related accounting for 39% of those groin injuries. What was interesting to note was that out of all those groin injuries 72% where acute in on-set. This goes against the popular belief out there that all groin injuries are chronic in nature, with only 28% of groin injuries classified as chronic in this population. Of the groin sub-classification of injuries (based on the Doha Consensus Statement), pubic-related pain accounted for the greatest time-loss of player availability (Mean Time-Loss 49 days). Thus, knowing that adductor related injuries account for a large portion of injuries in Gaelic Football it’s important to consider injury reduction strategies for this group.

This data follows on nicely from some of Andreas Serner work on acute adductor related injuries. His work has looked at the anatomical location of acute adductor related injuries in a sporting population and found that the adductor longus was involved in 87% of all cases. Isolated injuries accounted for 65% of athletes with multiple muscle injuries in 35% of cases, these with a combination of adductor grevis, pectineus etc. The majority of injuries were graded as 1 or 2 (83%) with 17% grade 3 injuries. Of the avulsion injuries, all where proximal adductor longus avulsions, which where combined with at least two other adductor injuries in all cases. Thus a relatively severe injury.

So as a professional working with GAA teams, knowing that groin injuries account for a large portion of lower limb injuries and which the adductor longus will largely make up the majority of those, putting in strategies looking at training load, strength, hip mobility etc to help reduce these injuries is vital.

 

Thomas Divilly