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Groin Pain: What You Need To Know About Groin Pain

Groin Pain

Groin Pain - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

30-Second-Summary
  • Groin pain, as the name suggests, occurs in the groin area.
  • Both men and women may experience groin pain.
  • Chronic groin pain is prevalent in the athletic population.
  • Groin injuries are most common in football, hockey, swimming, and gymnastics.
  • Common groin pain causes are muscle strain, sports injury, arthritis, hernia, hip fracture, bursitis, and even pregnancy.
  • Depending on the degree of injury, groin pain can be sharp, burning, and stabbing.
  • Depending on injury type and severity, physicians suggest groin pain treatment plans.
  • Rest may heal mild to moderate groin injuries and pain.
  • Chronic groin pain, if aggravated, may require surgery.

Introduction

Sportspersons who run, jump, and kick a lot suffer from groin pain. Both men and women can experience groin pain. Groin strain or groin pull involves straining the adductor muscles that causes mild to severe groin pain.

Additionally, arthritis, bursitis, hip fracture, groin injury, and even pregnancy can cause groin pain.

Groin pain treatment regimens are not complicated. Physical therapy, cold compress, OTC pain relievers, and prescription medicines may help attenuate groin pain. In some cases, surgeries are recommended by doctors.

What Is Groin Pain?

The hip area between the stomach and thigh is called the groin. It is the juncture where the abdomen ends and where the legs begin. The muscles in the groin area are called the adductor muscles.

These help in the movement, rotation, and bending of the thighs. Strain to the adductor muscles causes acute pain in the groin area. Besides muscle strain, hernia, kidney stone, infection, and pregnancy are also considered groin pain causes.

Why Does Your Groin Hurt? Common Groin Pain Causes

Groin Pain Causes

Different reasons contribute to groin pain. Usual groin pain causes include:

  • Arthritis – Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, as well as gout, may affect the hip joints[1] and cause groin pain. Osteoarthritis happens due to degeneration of the hip joint cartilage. This makes walking, sitting, and standing painful. The pain is felt in the groin area too. Groin pain is a common symptom of hip arthritis.
  • Hernias – Inguinal and femoral are two types of hernias that cause groin pain. Sometimes they don’t have symptoms and don’t require medical attention. However, inguinal hernias can cause discomfort and a burning feeling in the groin area. In some male patients, pain and swelling around the testicles are observed. Similarly, large femoral hernias[2] can result in complications such as strangulation and incarcerated hernia. A strangulated hernia causes acute pain and inflammation.

  • Avascular necrosis – Avascular necrosis means the death of bone tissue. It causes bone dislocation and affects joints. Avascular necrosis of the hip causes mild to severe pain in the groin, thigh, and buttocks.
  • Hip impingement – The hip is a ball-and-socket joint and has a large range of motion. Pain from hip impingement limits its range of motion. Groin pain is one of the symptoms of hip impingement.
  • Muscle strain – Overstretched or torn adductor muscles in the inner thigh cause groin strain. Jumping, kicking, changing direction while running may cause a groin strain. Often athletes experience this type of groin injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, the symptoms are acute pain in the inner thigh, groin, hip area, knee, swelling, as well as groin pain when walking and running.
  • Groin lump – A lump in the groin region is associated with pain and discomfort. There are different types of painful groin lumps, such as groin abscesses, skin cysts, enlarged lymph nodes, etc. Groin lumps cause a dragging, heavy sensation in the groin.
  • Kidney stone – Small kidney stones go unnoticed as they don’t create problems. If kidney stones block the urine flow, the kidneys swell and cause severe pain. The pain travels to the groin and lower abdomen areas.

Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Groin Pain

 Symptoms Of Groin Pain
When you feel discomfort in the groin area, look for the signs and symptoms. All groin pains are not created equal.

Groin strains caused by muscle strains may not require a visit to the doctor. In some cases, groin pain symptoms are indicators of a life-threatening condition and need medical attention. Both men and women can have groin pain.

1. Groin hernia symptoms

Groin hernia or inguinal hernia is common in older adults aged 75 to 80. Children within 5 years of age may have an inguinal hernia. Persons with a low BMI or a family history of groin hernia may have it.

Symptoms of groin hernia include:

  • A bulge between the thighs and lower abdomen
  • A male can have a bulge in the scrotum
  • Pain in the right and left sides of the lower abdomen
  • Testicle pain
  • Groin pain

2. Athletic groin injury

Groin injuries are common in athletes. Groin strains cause pain and tenderness in the groin area. Groin strain happens when the adductor muscles are stretched or torn beyond their capacities. Pain or discomfort is also felt inside the thigh. Pain sharpens while raising the knees or bringing the legs together.

3. Epididymitis and orchitis

Inflammation in epididymis and testicles may cause groin pain. Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • UTI symptoms
  • Testicle pain and tenderness

Other groin pain symptoms are:

  • Pelvic pain
  • A bulge in the thigh and hip areas
  • Lower back pain
  • Lower abdomen pain
  • Difficulty walking, running, or sports activities
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Rectal discharge

Available Treatments For Groin Pain

Treatments For Groin Pain
A variety of reasons can cause groin pain. Often groin pain is the result of sports activity and muscle strain. Sports that involve running, kicking, and direction-changing may cause groin pain. It is, therefore, crucial to diagnose the cause.

This study[3] mentions, groin pain involves non-musculoskeletal, intra-articular, and extra-articular causes, and diagnosis can be difficult. So once the cause is found, a physician or therapist can help with the groin pain treatment. Let’s look at the available options.

1. Treatment for Hip osteoarthritis

Persons with hip osteoarthritis experience aching pain in the frontal area of the groin. As the hip-joint cartilage wears away, the hip joint is affected by osteoarthritis. Regular activities may cause groin pain when walking, sitting, and standing. Several non-surgical treatments are available that include:

  • Anti-inflammatory oral medication
  • Osteopathic therapy – An osteopath assesses the condition of muscles around the groin and hip and creates a treatment plan for pain relief.
  • Intra-articular hip injection – A blend of steroid and local anesthetic is pushed into the hip. The anesthetic numbs the area, and the steroid reduces swelling, causing pain relief and improving mobility.

2. Treatment for Inguinal and femoral hernia

Inguinal and femoral hernias are two types of groin hernias. Of these, femoral hernias are not very common and frequently occur in women. If small and asymptomatic, they don’t require groin pain treatment. However, large ones create discomfort and groin pain, and sometimes they can be life-threatening. Laparoscopic surgery or open surgery is required to remove the femoral hernia from the body. Inguinal hernias are often harmless. But doctors recommend surgeries[4] to remove bulgy inguinal hernias that cause aching sensation and groin discomfort.

3. Treatment for Adductor tendinopathy

Adductor tendonitis is an overuse injury that causes groin inflammation and pain. Sports activities that involve running, swimming, horse riding, gymnastics put repetitive stress on the adductor tendons. As a result, the adductor tendon suffers degeneration, tissue damage, and swelling, causing severe groin pain when walking or doing any physical movement. The treatment options for this condition are:

  • Rest
  • Cold therapy to lower inflammation and pain
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises
  • Ultrasound or laser treatment by a therapist
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Anti-inflammatory medication

4. Treatment for Iliopsoas bursitis

Athletes often develop iliopsoas bursitis as a result of overuse. The repetitive use syndrome causes pain in the groin area and hip front. Treatment options include:

  • OTC anti-inflammatory medications
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Physical therapy

5. Treatment for Groin pull

Excessive stress on the groin and thigh muscles result in groin pull that causes groin pain. Treating a groin pull is uncomplicated. Experts suggest rubbing ice inside the thighs till the pain is gone. Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen also work. Stretching and strengthening exercises are also recommended depending on the severity of the injury.

Frequently Asked Questions

Groin pain can make you sleepless if it results from bursitis, osteoarthritis (OA), piriformis syndrome, or tendonitis. Additionally, wrong sleeping positions, a too soft or too hard mattress, sleep posture, inflamed hip tendons could be groin pain causes disrupting sleep at night.

Groin pain may be mild or severe. Intensity depends on groin pain causes. For example, an inguinal hernia may cause severe groin pain. People with avascular necrosis may feel a throbbing pain in and around the groin. A sports hernia is a painful soft-tissue injury in the groin area.

Often, groin pain does not need medical intervention. However, in cases of severe and unceasing pain, if you see blood while urinating or fever, you should consult a doctor.

Several reasons can cause groin pain. The most common cause is a groin pull from sporty activities, including playing hockey, soccer, running, or swimming. Also, arthritis, UTI, hip bursitis, hernia, hip tendonitis, and pregnancy may cause groin pain.

Women, nearly 80% of them, go through groin pain during pregnancy. Pelvic pressure leads to groin discomfort and is common in second or later pregnancies. As the baby grows and becomes heavier, the muscles, joints, and organs undergo increasing stress and pressure, causing groin pain. If it's your first pregnancy, you may experience Braxton-Hicks contractions that involve groin area contractions and result in groin pain.

Depending on the reasons that cause groin pain, it can be mild to severe. A torn pelvic muscle may cause sudden, sharp pain in the groin area.

Conclusion

Certain sports such as football, hockey, gymnastics, ad swimming that require running, jumping, repeated movements, or sudden change of direction may cause groin injury and pain. Depending on the type and degree of injury, a person can have mild to moderate to severe groin pain.

If your hip cartilage is degenerating fast, your hip joint may be affected by osteoarthritis, which results in groin pain. Men and women, especially women, may suffer from hernias that cause groin pain. Different treatment options are available to reduce groin pain symptoms. In case your groin pain turns severe, follow up with a physician.

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