(Ed’s note: Our resident health and fitness expert, Cameron Walshy has been a very busy man tonight! He has been worried about Brooks Orpik’s off-season sports hernia operation since the earliest moments of the training camp and when news broke regarding a recent groin strain he leaped to action… Here Walshy breaks down the sports hernia, it’s repair, rehab and potential side effects of rushing back…)
By Cameron Walsh
Ok guys back on the 11th of June this year Orpik had surgery to repair a sports hernia or Athletic Pubalgia (I think sports hernia is much more palatable). Jerry Gilmore recognised the syndrome in 1980 and he developed a repair technique that has been modified over time to repair the condition.
This is an injury that is most common in sportsmen and sportswomen who require repetitive twisting and turning at speed. Therefore hockey players are very susceptible to this injury.
These hernias are damn hard to find, they are often confused with other ailments such as osteitis pubis and adductor tenoperiostitis (adductor strain) which obviously complicates diagnosing the sports hernia. The diagnosis of a sports hernia is determined based on a combination of the player’s history, physical examinations, and tests. Of late MRI tests have become more common in locating signs of a sports hernia.
To give you an idea of what Orpik was going through during the last half of the season and the playoffs, these are some of the symptoms of a sports hernia:
• Slow onset of pain in the lower abdominal region
• pain in the groin
• pain the testicles
These would have been exacerbated whilst playing, and especially painful for hockey players, it wouldn’t be surprising if #44 was playing the playoffs with a localised painkiller to numb the pain. It can get to the point where coughing and sneezing become quite painful.
I did a little bit of research on the net to find out if it is possible to contract a 2nd hernia on the other side of the body. It is possible but very rare, often you just get groin and abdominal strains as the body tries to compensate for the adjustment to the change in the body post operation and post operation rehabilitation, this seems like the scenario we are seeing with Orpik.
I think it would be obvious every player should go through a 6 to 9 week rehabilitation program if it is possible, however it may take as long as 12 weeks for a player to be fully functional again to play. If Orpik had run to this schedule he would only have started his first lot of contact skating on the 11th of September, 1 month out from the start of the season.
The other alternative Orpik may have run with is the 18 day program; it would give him enough time to get back into his regular training regime before hitting training camp and feel like he was ready to go.
However if you read some reports, Brooks himself has said he has continued to have discomfort through camp, and with this current groin injury it looks as though his body is compensating for that discomfort and restricting his skating stride.
The club has come out and said the groin injury is not related to his hernia operation, well it is not directly related we can be 99% sure of that. The body is a pretty clever organism, if it is having difficulty moving about because of a restriction in one part, it will adapt somewhere else, obviously Orpik’s groin has had enough of trying to compensate and is in need of rest.
It will be interesting to see how this is handled and how long Orpik is on the shelf, the Penguins are not deep in their back 6 and with Zbynek Michalek also injured, there will be a temptation for the player to want to rush back and help the team. It will be up to the staff to make sure Orpik is 100% healthy or he will keep re-injuring his groin through the year.