Injuring your groin isn’t necessarily something that’s easy to “walk off.” A groin strain or pull—a tear or rupture in one of the muscles of the inner thigh—can be debilitating.
Groin pain can be gradual, the result of overuse or sudden (acute) pain from an injury. Acute groin strain causes sudden, sharp pain in the groin area and can also cause swelling and/or bruising. The severity of the injury determines the injured person’s mobility following the injury.
In some cases, the individual may be able to continue normal activity, but a severe strain may require the injured person to discontinue physical activity until the injury heals. If an acute injury is not treated promptly, the muscle may become prone to recurring pain and injury.
The groin is the group of adductor muscles that span from the inner pelvis to the inner femur (thigh bone). Muscles in the groin play an important role in the movements of the hip joint and legs. They stabilize the legs and control movements for walking, running, sprinting and playing sports that require quick changes in direction. This means athletes who play sports like hockey, football and soccer may be more likely to suffer a groin injury, although anyone can suffer a groin injury.
Treatment for groin pain depends on the cause and severity of the injury, but may include: cold therapy, groin taping or strapping (with athletic tape or bandages) and/or groin support or compression bandage. Sports massage may also be used to help relieve the pain associated with a groin injury by encouraging the flow of blood and nutrients to the muscles.
Once the pain and swelling subside, strengthening exercises—such as resistance band training and dynamic exercises—should be used to gradually increase the load on the groin muscles. Depending on the severity of the injury, a groin strain or pull can take up to 12 weeks to heal.
In some cases, groin pain isn’t the result of an injury at all, but a sign of a sexually transmitted disease, inguinal hernia or testicular cancer.
If you are experiencing groin pain, either acute or chronic, see your doctor. A medical examination can help determine the cause of your pain and the best course of treatment.