An Unfortunate Injury

Beth Sullivan | June 8th, 2019

Any mother who has ever had a son who played sports has had a debate with them about having to wear an athletic supporter and protective cup. Most boys and men say they aren’t comfortable, they impede their ability to play or they cause a rash to develop because of how hot they are and how much sweat accumulates. Despite the complaints about this protective piece of equipment, it serves a very important purpose. This fact can be attested to first hand by Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger.

Haniger was placed on the 10-day IL after suffering a testicular rupture or fracture after fouling a ball off himself last Thursday. Most men who experience this type of injury are out of action for six to eight weeks because surgery and time to recover are needed to return to playing sports. A ruptured testicle is a serious injury and untreated can result in a loss of the testicle, serious injury or even problems urinating.

How is the Testicle Injured?

Before I explain the injury, let’s talk about how they occur. The testicles are, as everyone who has taken a science class knows, located on the outside of the male body hanging in a skin pouch called the scrotum. The testicle itself is contained within a protective connective tissue covering called the tinea albuginea. When this protective covering is injured it can get a tear which can then cause fluid and tissue to collect outside of the normal position but inside the scrotum. The best example I can give is to think of a large grape that has gotten the outer skin ripped because a heavy can was placed on top of the grapes when they were bagged at the grocery store. This is similar to what happens when a testicle is ruptured. Blunt trauma can occur because a person is kicked by another player, struck by an object like a ball, bat, hockey stick, or falls forcefully on an object like the bar on a bicycle or the tank of a motorcycle.

How is it Diagnosed?

A Testicular contusion or rupture, when it is suspected is diagnosed by ultrasound.  Normally after the blunt trauma, a player will experience mild to severe pain and significant swelling and possible bruising on one side of the scrotal sac. If this is experienced, it needs to be evaluated quickly because a man’s fertility can be jeopardized by delaying diagnosis and treatment. An ultrasound is performed and if an abnormality is identified, surgery to repair is quickly scheduled.

Treatment and Recovery

Exploratory surgery is generally performed to access the extent of the injury, evacuate any pooled seminiferous fluid and/or blood and repair the defect in the protective tissue covering. The recovery time for this type of procedure is a minimum of six to eight weeks. One complication of this type of injury and the repair is the development of an infection because of the area in which the testicles reside. Most patients will be treated with pain medication and antibiotics as well as ice packs to reduce swelling.  The injury and recovery from correction are painful.


Many blunt trauma injuries can be avoided by athletes wearing an athletic supporter (jock strap) and an athletic cup. They have been around for 145 years and were originally developed by the Bike Web Co. of Boston, MA and later called Bike Athletic Co. of Knoxville, TN  for riders of the high wheel bicycles that were popular during that period.  They have been making them continuously since then, and while other companies have entered the market, they still make and sell more each year than any other company. Bike Athletic was sold to Russell Inc. in 2003 and the headquarters was moved to Atlanta, GA.

The basic design has changed little in the years since they were first introduced. Unfortunately, their use has fallen out of favor with many men and boys, but with all of the safety concerns with sports, their use is important and should be mandated.  If the Seattle player had been wearing one, he might have been able to avoid this unfortunate injury. Mothers need to instill this in their sons who are playing sports and coaches and trainers need to impress it on the players as well.

Questions and comments?

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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