Groin Strain (Groin Muscle Pain) – Anatomy, Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis

When the groin muscles are pulled or strained, it causes pain in the groin. When the groin muscles are strained at high intensity, it is due to the stretching process of thigh muscles beyond their limit. Ultimately this would result in tearing of some muscular parts and tissue in the groin resulting in swelling and pain. Groin muscles have adductors which are fan like structures present in the upper thigh region. When the leg muscles contract, it results in the pulling of muscle normally. However when there is intense contraction it would strain the groin muscles which is felt as pain in the thigh.

It can damage the inner muscles or tear some part of muscles when the muscles get pulled. Groin muscles when inflamed it pains a lot when touched normally. With increased movements to the muscles, it gets weakened and muscles get torn. Groin muscles pain is felt in the form of sports hernia which is due to the sudden pulling of muscle. The feeling of dull pain in the groin is the symptom of sports hernia. Generally treatment for groin muscles is done on the basis of RICE method which means Rest, Ice application, Compression and Elevation of the pained muscles. Complete rest is advised until the muscles tear gets strong and it may take up to 2-3 weeks.

Groin Pull :

Groin strain or Groin pull is common in athletes which cause intense pain making them unable to participate in sports for several months. Groin pull can occur when too much of pressure is applied on the groin muscle which becomes highly stretched and torn. Football and soccer players are at high risk of groin pull.

In order to understand the groin strain you should first know about the anatomy of groin.

Anatomy Of Groin :

The groin is the area that lies between the abdomen (stomach) and thighs. Groin is made of multiple ligaments, muscles, and tendons which fuse together in the pubic bone. Often groin strain occurs in the area of inguinal ligament. Hip adductor muscles together make up the groin area. Owing to the complicated fusion of muscles and tendons any injury or additional stress on the groin can result in groin strain.

Inguinal ligament is placed in the center of the groin area and this is the lowermost area of the abdominal wall. Inguinal hernias are found above this ligament which can also cause groin pull. Inguinal ligament initially attaches with the pubic bone and moves downward in the form of lacunar ligament which fuses with the pectineal ligament also known as Cooper’s ligament. Any abnormal pressure or tension in this area can result in groin pain. It becomes difficult for many athletes to distinguish the painful area since it is formed with fusion of many ligaments and fibers.

Who Are At Risk ?

Groin pain can occur to anyone irrespective of age and sex. Athletes and those who are taking part in sports like football and soccer are liable for groin pull. It involves quick changes of direction, fast kicking and acceleration and deceleration of movement. Overall 30-40% of athletes can develop groin pain at some point of their life.

Symptoms :

Groin pain can be felt as varying degrees of pain and discomfort in the groin area and inside of thighs. Pain may increase when the person brings his legs closer. Similarly pain can be felt while keeping the knees in raised position.

Groin pain can be categorized into 3 types :

  1. First degree pain is mild without sparing any range of movement in the area.
  2. Second degree pain is moderate and may cause loss of strength and slight tissue damage.
  3. Third degree pain would be sharp and intense causing loss of function significantly. The muscles are either partly or completely torn inside.

Pictures of Groin Muscle :

Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Groin Muscle

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Diagnosis :

It is vital for doctors who treat sports injury to identify the exact area where the pain is felt. It can be either in the region above the pubic tubercle or beneath the pubic bone. Inguinal ligament pressure can cause upper groin pain. An expert doctor will gently touch the upper groin area to feel the palpation there. He may also check the scrotum region to find if the external inguinal ligament is dilated. Pain may radiate from the inguinal ligament and proceed down till the adductor area for many athletes. Based on the symptoms, the doctor may order for imaging tests like CT or MRI scan of groin to know the exact position.

Treatment :

Groin pain is subtle for many sports person and continues to exist for many months. It gets easily triggered by doing rigorous exercise. There are some cases wherein they report of pain even after doing physiotherapy. Mild to moderate pain in the groin muscle can be managed by over the counter painkillers in combination of conservative treatments. Ice or Hot therapy is effective in reducing inflammation inside. Inner areas of the thigh can be kept under ice for few minutes. This easy therapy can be repeated several times a day. You can place the ice cubes on a cloth and apply it on the groin and painful region.

Hot therapy can be used for relaxing the muscle spasm of the groin. Hot bags filled with lukewarm/hot water can be placed directly on the groin area for few minutes. You can get quick relief from pain in this method. Groin strain can be totally relieved for many people due to improved blood circulation by heat therapy. Alternatively muscle relaxants can be used for a week to reduce the symptoms of groin muscle pain.

  • Deep Massage :

Muscle spasm can be relieved with deep massage therapy. One can continue taking superficial massage for many weeks if there is improvement of symptoms. Deep massage is recommended after the muscle injury is healed completely.

  • Chiropractic Approach :

In this therapy trained chiropractors would use tiny instruments or their hands to create sudden force on the affected joint for relieving muscle spasm.

  • Braces :

Your doctor may recommend wearing braces or thigh compression to give complete rest for the affected groin muscle. It would restrict the contractions of the muscle and thus effective in healing injury.

  • Medications :

NSAID’s like Advil or Aleve can be helpful in reducing groin pain caused by inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe these drugs for 2-3 weeks and advise to continue physiotherapy later.

  • Physiotherapy :

This can be done with the help of trained therapist and is effective in releasing the pressure of pulled joint.

  • Injection :

Ligament injury or inflammation on the ligaments can be treated by trigger point injection. Local anesthesia is given directly on the soft tissue where the pain occurs.

  • Surgery :

Surgery is recommended for third degree groin pain where pain has restricted movement for the person. The surgeon would cut and remove defective tendons or muscles and reposition it with healthy tendons or muscle in the procedure. Surgery can be minimally invasive for muscle tear or serious one for more severe damage.

Prognosis :

Recovery from groin muscle pain depends on the intensity of injury. Often muscle spasm can be totally cured with different approaches of treatment. Pain can be felt for several weeks if it is caused by muscle tear or tendon tear. The person can resume normal activities after two months after the tendon tear has healed completely. In case of major surgery you should follow the instructions by surgeon/doctor for better prognosis which can take 2-3 months after surgery, depending on the nature of injury.

Tips For Prevention :

  • It is better to practice stretching exercise for any sportsman before starting of event.
  • It is necessary to wear suitably fitting shoes that offer good support while playing and kicking.
  • It is not recommended to resume exercises with pain or tightness in the groin muscle.
  • Future groin pull can be prevented by doing regular strengthening exercises.

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