What is groin strain?
A groin pull, or groin strain, results from putting too much stress on muscles in your groin and thigh. If these muscles are tensed too forcefully or too suddenly, they can get over-stretched or torn.
Groin pulls are common in people who play sports that require a lot of running and jumping. In particular, suddenly jumping or changing direction is a likely cause. Groin pulls often appear in people who play soccer and football, and they make up about 10% of all injuries in professional hockey players.
How common is groin strain?
Groin strain is extremely common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of groin strain?
The common symptoms of groin strain are:
- Pain and tenderness in the groin and the inside of the thigh
- Pain when you bring your legs together
- Pain when you raise your knee
- A popping or snapping feeling during the injury, followed by severe pain
Groin pulls are often divided into three degrees of severity:
- 1st degree: Mild pain, but little loss of strength or movement
- 2nd degree: Moderate pain, mild to moderate strength loss and some tissue damage
- 3rd degree: Severe pain, severe loss of strength and function due to a complete tear of the muscle
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes groin strain?
Groin strains usually occur when sprinting or changing direction quickly or during rapid movements of the leg against resistance such as kicking a ball. Over stretching the muscle such as in martial arts high kicks can also cause a torn adductor muscle.
There are five groin (adductor) muscles. Three of them are called the ‘short adductors’ (pectineus, adductor brevis and adductor longus) and the other two are called the ‘long adductors’ and consist of gracilis and adductor magnus. Although muscle strains can occur randomly there are factors which can increase the likelihood of sustaining injury.
What increases my risk for groin strain?
There are many risk factors for groin strain, such as:
- Not warming up properly
- Having weak adductor muscles
- Tight adductor muscles
- Previous injury
- Lower back problems
- Biomechanical factors
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is groin strain diagnosed?
A professional therapist will perform a full examination which includes a number of tests:
- Range of motion – Testing the range of motion available at the hip joint or stretching the suspected injured muscles may reproduce symptoms. By analyzing the pain responses to particular movements or stretches will give the therapist vital information about which muscles/tendons may be damaged. Moving the leg out to the side (away from the body into “abduction”) stretches the groin muscles and can give an indication about flexibility. In the healthy athlete both legs should be equal in terms of degree of stretch or flexibility.
- Resisted muscle tests – These involve the therapist applying resistance as the patient takes the injured leg through a range of movement. If pain is reproduced this gives information to the therapist about the type and location of the injury as well as feedback on muscle strength. Resisted muscle tests should be carried out in different positions to fully test the muscle (i.e. with the leg straight and bent).
How is groin strain treated?
A groin pull will usually heal on its own. You just need to give it some time and rest. To speed the healing, you can:
- Ice the inside of your thigh to reduce pain and swelling. Experts recommend doing it for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days, or until the pain is gone.
- Compress your thigh using an elastic bandage or tape.
- Take anti-inflammatory painkillers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen, will help with pain and swelling. But studies show their effects are controversial especially if taken long-term. Additionally, these drugs can have side effects; they should be used only occasionally unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.
To assist tissue healing, your medical provider will guide you in active stretching and strengthening exercises. Depending on grade of injury, this can start immediately or may require several days of rest. Pain is used as a guide. Too aggressive and further damage may occur.
Most of the time, these conservative treatments will do the trick. But not always. If these techniques still don’t help, you may want to think about surgery. While surgery may give you relief, it’s a last resort. Not everyone can return to their previous level of activity afterward. So talk over the pros and cons of surgery with your doctor. You should also consider getting a second opinion.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage groin strain?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with groin strain:
- Switch to a new activity that won’t put too much stress on your groin muscles. For instance, runners could try swimming.
- Don’t rush things. Don’t try to return to your old level of physical activity until:
- You can move your leg on the injured side as freely and as easily as your other leg
- The leg on your injured side feels as strong as the leg on the uninjured side
- You feel no pain when you walk, jog, sprint, or jump
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Groin Pull. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/groin-pull#1. Accessed 10 Jan 2017
groin strain. http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/hip-groin-pain/groin-strain. Accessed 10 Jan 2017
Review Date: June 16, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019