Groin Problems and Injuries
Top of the pageCheck Your Symptoms
You may have had a minor groin problem at
one time or another. Most of the time our body movements do not cause
problems. It’s not surprising that symptoms may develop from everyday wear and
tear, overuse, or an injury.
groin areas are located on each side of the body in the folds where the belly
joins the legs. The pubic area lies between the two groin areas.
Groin injuries most commonly occur during:
- Sports or recreational activities, such as ice
hockey, cross-country skiing, basketball, and soccer.
- Work or projects around the home.
Groin problems and injuries can cause pain and concern. Most
minor problems or injuries will heal on their own. Home treatment is usually
all that is needed to relieve symptoms and heal.
acute injury may occur from a direct blow, a stabbing
injury, a fall, or from the leg being turned in an abnormal position.
You can pull (strain) or tear
a groin muscle during exercise, such as running, skating, kicking in soccer, or
playing basketball. You can strain a groin muscle while lifting, pushing, or
pulling heavy objects. You might pull a groin muscle when you fall. A sudden pulling or
tearing of a groin muscle may cause sudden pain. A snapping sound may be heard
with hip or leg movement. Swelling and bruising can happen quickly. Sometimes
swelling and bruising do not show up for a few days after the injury.
Overuse injuries occur when too much stress is placed
on an area. This often happens when you overdo an activity or repeat the same
activity day after day. Overuse can lead to muscle strains or tears or may
cause swelling. Overuse
- A hairline crack in a bone (stress fracture).
- Osteitis pubis, which is a
condition that causes chronic groin pain because of stress on the
pubis symphysis. Distance runners and soccer players
are most likely to be affected.
- Avulsion fractures. This occurs when force causes a
tendon or ligament to tear away from a bone and break off a piece of bone. It most commonly
affects teenage athletes who are involved in jumping, kicking, sprinting, or
Other causes of groin problems
Groin pain not caused
by an injury to the groin may be coming from other parts of the body. This is
called radiating, or referred, pain.
tendons in the leg may cause symptoms in the groin. It
is important to look for
other causes of groin pain when you have not had an
inguinal hernia is a bulge of soft tissue through a
weak spot in the abdominal wall in the groin area. See a picture of an
inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia may need surgical treatment. A
sports hernia may affect the same area of the groin in
Infections may cause a lump, bumps, or swelling in the groin area. Glands (lymph nodes) in the groin
may become enlarged and painful when there is an infection in the groin area. If the
infection is minor, the swelling may last a few days and go away on its own.
Groin symptoms in children
When a child develops
groin pain, the pain may be caused by a problem with the upper part of the
thighbone (head of the femur) or the hip. Common causes of groin pain, knee
pain (referred pain from the hip), or limping include:
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. This
condition affects the blood supply and proper placement of the head of the
femur in the hip socket.
- Slipped capital femoral epiphysis. This condition occurs when the femur slips at the
growth plate (physis) and does not fit in the hip socket
- Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). This
condition is caused by abnormal development of the hip joint. The femur may fit
loosely into the hip socket (subluxation) or be completely out of the hip
- Swelling (inflammation) of the lining of the joint space
of the hip (toxic synovitis).
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis. This disease causes inflamed, swollen, stiff, and often
- Infectious arthritis (septic
arthritis). This is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection inside the hip
Check your symptoms to decide if and when
you should see a doctor.
Check Your Symptoms
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
- Your age. Babies and older
adults tend to get sicker quicker.
- Your overall health. If you have a condition such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, or heart
disease, you may need to pay closer attention to certain symptoms and seek care
- Medicines you take. Certain
medicines, herbal remedies, and supplements can cause symptoms or make them
- Recent health events, such as surgery
or injury. These kinds of events can cause symptoms afterwards or make them
- Your health habits and lifestyle, such as eating and exercise habits, smoking, alcohol or drug
use, sexual history, and travel.
Try Home Treatment
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
- Try home treatment to relieve the
- Call your doctor if symptoms get worse or you have any
concerns (for example, if symptoms are not getting better as you would expect).
You may need care sooner.
Symptoms of infection may
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in or
around the area.
- Red streaks leading from the area.
- Pus draining from the area.
- A fever.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system’s ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
- Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease,
- Long-term alcohol and drug
- Steroid medicines, which may be used to treat a variety
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for
- Other medicines used to treat autoimmune
- Medicines taken after organ transplant.
having a spleen.
Pain in adults and older children
- Severe pain (8 to 10): The pain
is so bad that you can’t stand it for more than a few hours, can’t sleep, and
can’t do anything else except focus on the pain.
- Moderate pain (5 to 7): The pain is bad enough to disrupt your
normal activities and your sleep, but you can tolerate it for hours or days.
Moderate can also mean pain that comes and goes even if it’s severe when it’s
- Mild pain (1 to 4): You notice the pain,
but it is not bad enough to disrupt your sleep or activities.
Urinary symptoms may include:
- Pain when you urinate.
- Not being able to urinate at all.
- Blood in
Seek Care Now
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
- Call your doctor now to discuss the symptoms and
arrange for care.
- If you cannot reach your doctor or you don’t have
one, seek care in the next hour.
- You do not need to call an
- You cannot travel safely either by driving
yourself or by having someone else drive you.
- You are in an area
where heavy traffic or other problems may slow you down.
- You cannot travel safely either by driving
Seek Care Today
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
- Call your doctor today to discuss the symptoms
and arrange for care.
- If you cannot reach your doctor or you don’t
have one, seek care today.
- If it is evening, watch the symptoms and
seek care in the morning.
- If the symptoms get worse, seek care
Make an Appointment
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
- Make an appointment to see your doctor in the
next 1 to 2 weeks.
- If appropriate, try home treatment while you
are waiting for the appointment.
- If symptoms get worse or you have
any concerns, call your doctor. You may need care sooner.
Home treatment measures can help
relieve pain, swelling, and bruising and promote healing after a groin injury.
These home treatment measures also may be helpful for noninjury problems.
But if you think you may have a more severe injury, use first aid measures
while you arrange to be checked by your doctor.
- Rest. Rest and protect an
injured or sore
groin area for 1 to 2 weeks. Stop, change, or take a
break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness. Do not do
intense activities while you still have pain. A pulled muscle (strain) in the groin can take several weeks to
- Ice. Cold will reduce pain and
swelling. Apply an
ice or cold pack immediately to reduce swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack
for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. A bag of frozen peas or corn
may work as a cold pack. Protect your skin from frostbite by placing a cloth
between the ice and your skin. After 48 to 72 hours, if the swelling is gone, apply
to the area that hurts.
- Support. While you are recovering from a groin injury, wear underwear that supports the injured area. Females can use workout underwear or shorts with a snug fit. For males, it’s best to wear jockey shorts with a snug fit rather than boxer shorts.
It may take 4 to 6 weeks or longer for a minor groin injury
Stretching and strengthening exercises will help you
gradually return to your normal activities.
Stretching exercises begin with range-of-motion exercises. These are
controlled stretches that prevent stiffness and tendon shortening. Gently bend,
straighten, and rotate your leg and hip. If you have increasing pain, slow down
or stop the exercises.
You may do strengthening exercises with light weights, such as ankle
weights, after the pain has decreased and your flexibility has improved.
Non-weight-bearing activities, such as swimming or cycling, may be
helpful depending on the seriousness of your injury. A sports medicine health
professional or trainer can advise you about fitness activities.
| Try an over-the-counter medicine to help
treat your pain:
Talk to your child’s doctor before switching back and
| Be sure to follow these safety tips
when you use an over-the-counter medicine:
Home treatment measures
may also be helpful for:
- Yeast infections that cause a fiery red
rash with a scalloped border and sharply outlined edges in skin
- Jock itch, which is a fungus (ringworm)
infection of the skin that may cause a rash and blisters.
- Minor cuts or skin wounds with mild bleeding.
- Minor rashes that are red and itchy. These may be caused by contact with a
substance (contact dermatitis) such as poison ivy that causes an
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
- Signs of infection develop, such as
fever, swelling, redness, or pus.
- Swelling that is known to be a hernia suddenly becomes very painful.
- A rash gets worse or has not improved.
- Groin pain has not improved.
- A limp or trouble walking develops or
- Symptoms become more severe or frequent.
The following tips may help you prevent a
groin injury or other problems in the groin area.
Prevent groin injury and strain
Steps to prevent a
groin injury or strain may include the following:
- Warm up by stretching the groin muscles before
exercising. Stretching can increase your range of motion and reduce stiffness
and pain. Stretching is also important during the cool-down phase of exercise
when your muscles are warm.
- Increase the intensity and length of
exercise gradually. As your fitness level improves, you will be able to do more
intense exercise without injury.
- Try to exercise regularly. Don’t
just go all out on weekends.
- Use proper sports techniques and
equipment. For example:
- Wear supportive, well-cushioned shoes for
running, aerobics, and walking.
- Properly adjust your bicycle seat
and handlebars for your height.
- Wear supportive, well-cushioned shoes for
- Drink extra water before and during exercise,
especially in hot or humid weather. This can help prevent muscle cramps and
- Make sure you can always see where you are walking. To
- Use a step stool when reaching for high
objects. Do not stand on chairs or other objects.
- Don’t climb
stairs with both hands full.
- Use a step stool when reaching for high
- Get help carrying heavy or awkward objects. Do
not strain to lift or carry objects.
Prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
take measures to reduce your risk of becoming infected with a sexually
transmitted infection (STI). You can also reduce the risk of transmitting an STI to your sex partner. Know
high-risk behaviors and the
symptoms of STIs, and do not have sex with anyone who
has these symptoms.
Condom use may reduce the
risk of becoming infected with an STI. Condoms must be put on before beginning
any sexual contact. Use condoms with a new partner.
Prevent jock itch or yeast infection
- Dry yourself well after bathing. Use a hair dryer to dry your groin area.
- Wear cotton underwear and
loose-fitting clothes. Avoid tight pants.
- Use a powder to absorb
- If you have athlete’s foot, put on your socks before your
underwear. This can prevent fungi from spreading from your feet to your groin
when you put on your underwear.
- Change out of a wet bathing suit
soon after swimming so that your skin can dry out.
Preparing For Your Appointment
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
Before your appointment
If you have a rash, do not
have sexual contact or activity until you are seen by your doctor. This will
reduce the risk of transmitting a possible infection to your sex partner. If
you do have an STI, your sex partner or partners may need to be evaluated and
Questions to prepare for your doctor appointment
- What are your main symptoms? How long have you
had your symptoms?
- Have you had this problem before? If so, do you
know what caused the problem at that time? How was it treated?
activities make your symptoms better or worse? What sports do you participate
- How and when did an injury occur? How was it
- Have you had any injuries in the past to the same area? Do
you have any continuing problems because of the previous injury?
you think that activities related to your job or hobbies caused your
- Have you had infections or rashes in the groin area in
- Do you or your sex partner engage in
high-risk sexual behaviors? Do you think you have been
exposed to a
sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
your sex partner have any genital symptoms or problems?
- Have you
had any surgeries or procedures in the groin area?
- Have you been
told that you have a hernia?
- What home treatment measures have you
tried? Did they help?
- What prescription and nonprescription
medicines have you taken? Did they help?
- Do you have any
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Current as ofMarch 20, 2017
Current as of:
March 20, 2017