The Effectiveness of Nonoperative Rehabilitation Programs for Athletes Diagnosed With Osteitis Pubis

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Scott W. Cheatham
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Morey J. Kolber
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Kathryn Kumagai Shimamura
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Clinical Scenario:

The differential diagnosis of groin pain can be very challenging due to the many causative pathologies. Osteitis pubis is a pathology that is becoming more recognized in athletes who participate in sports such as soccer, ice hockey, rugby, and football. Conservative nonoperative treatment is often prescribed first before surgical intervention. Of particular interest are the outcomes of nonoperative rehabilitation programs and their effectiveness to return athletes to preinjury levels of participation. The most recent systematic review in 2011 examined the spectrum of treatments for osteitis pubis and found only level 4 (case report or case series) evidence with varying approaches to treatment. Due to the amount of time since the last published review, there is a need to critically appraise the recent literature to see if more high-quality research has been published that measured nonoperative interventions for athletes with osteitis pubis.

Focused Clinical Question:

Is there evidence to suggest that nonoperative rehabilitation programs for osteitis pubis are effective at returning athletes to their preinjury levels of participation?

Summary of Key Findings:

Four studies met the inclusion criteria. Only level 4 evidence was found. All studies reported using a structured nonoperative rehabilitation program with a successful return to preinjury participation between 4 and 14 wk, except for 1 study reporting a successful return at 30 wk. Successful long-term follow-up was reported at 6–48 mo for all patients.

Clinical Bottom Line:

There is weak evidence to support the efficacy of nonoperative rehabilitation programs at returning athletes to their preinjury levels of participation.

Strength of Recommendation:

There is grade D evidence that a nonoperative program for osteitis pubis is effective at helping athletes return to their preinjury level of participation. The Centre of Evidence Based Medicine recommends a grade D for level 4 evidence with consistent findings.

Cheatham is with the Div of Kinesiology and Recreation, California State University Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA. Kolber is with the Dept of Physical Therapy, Nova Southeastern University, Ft Lauderdale, FL. Shimamura is with the Dept of Physical Therapy, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA.

Address author correspondence to Scott W. Cheatham at SCheatham@csudh.edu.
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