Groin Problems in Male Soccer Players Are More Common Than Previously Reported

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Abstract

Background:

The majority of surveillance studies in soccer have used a time-loss injury definition, and many groin problems result from overuse, leading to gradually increasing pain and/or reduced performance without necessarily causing an absence from soccer training or match play. Thus, the magnitude of groin problems in soccer has probably been underestimated in previous studies based on traditional injury surveillance methods.

Purpose:

To investigate the prevalence of groin problems among soccer players of both sexes and among male soccer players at different levels of play through a new surveillance method developed to capture acute and overuse problems.

Study Design:

Descriptive epidemiology study.

Methods:

We registered groin problems during a 6-week period of match congestion using the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center Overuse Injury Questionnaire. A total of 240 players from 15 teams across different levels of play and from both sexes were included, and they responded to the weekly questionnaire. We calculated the average weekly prevalence of all groin problems and substantial groin problems.

Results:

Of the 240 players, 112 male players (59%) and 20 female players (45%) reported at least 1 episode of groin problems. The average weekly prevalence of any groin problem and substantial groin problem for all male players was 29% (range, 23%-32% across different levels) and 10% (7%-13%), respectively. Elite male players had an increased risk of experiencing groin problems (odds ratio: 3.1, 95% CI: 1.5-6.4, P = .03) compared with elite female players. There was no difference in the risk of experiencing groin problems among elite, subelite, and amateur male players. For substantial problems, there was no difference between elite male and elite female players or among levels of play for senior male soccer players.

Conclusion:

We found a high prevalence of groin problems among male soccer players during a period with match congestion. Time-loss definition as used in previous injury surveillance studies captured only one-third of the male groin problems registered with the new method. Elite male players had 3 times’ higher risk of reporting groin problems as compared with elite female players, while playing level did not influence the risk of reporting a groin problem among males.

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