This post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Sports Medicine
A groin pull or groin strain is a common injury among athletes especially for those who participate in sports that require running and jumping.
There are five groin muscles (three short adductors and two long adductors). The muscle group functions to pull the leg back towards the middle and stabilize the pelvis during movement.
Groin pain is divided in three stages of severity:
- 1st degree: Mild, usually heals quickly with little loss of strength and movement
- 2nd degree: Moderate, heals over a longer period of time with moderate strength loss and some bruising
- 3rd degree: Severe pain, may take months to heal with severe loss of strength and function and bruising
- Groin and thigh muscle suddenly takes on too much weight
- Muscle stretched beyond its ability
- Changing direction while sprinting
- Muscle imbalance
- Poor conditioning
- Muscle tightness
- Muscle fatigue
- Growing children
Groin strain symptoms
- Popping or snapping feeling during the injury
- Severe pain
- Pain and tenderness in the groin and inside of the thigh
- Pain when raising your knee
- Pain when bringing your legs together
To determine whether you have a groin pull, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history, ask questions about your pain and how long you have been experiencing your symptoms and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray will be required and an MRI may be necessary to rule out other injuries.
Typically treatment for a pulled groin is non-surgical and includes:
- Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE)
- Activity modification or immobilization: Such as avoiding activities that worsen symptoms
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
- Home exercises to strengthen muscles
- Physical therapy to increase strength and flexibility
- Crutches may be required for severe injuries
In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary but is very rare. If the muscle is completely torn, surgery may be necessary to return to normal movement. However, even in severe pulls, non-surgical methods have proven successful in returning a patient to their normal lifestyle.
Groin pull recovery
- Avoid the activity that caused your injury until advised by your health care professional
- Condition muscles with exercise
- Warm up before exercise or sports activity
- Cool down after exercise or sports activity
- If you feel pain, stop immediately and let muscles heal completely before returning to sports
Minor strains can take two to four weeks to recover. More severe injuries may take several months to fully recover to pre-injury activity levels.
Learn more about sports medicine treatment at OrthoIndy.
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