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Groin Pain: What Causes Groin Pain & How to Find Relief

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Last updated January 28, 2021

Groin pain questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your pain.

Pain in the groin can occur in athletes from muscle strains or tears in the tendon. Nerve damage and compression can also cause groin pain. The most common cause of groin pain in men and women are hernias or enlarged lymph nodes. Read below for more information on causes and how to treat groin muscle pain.

Groin pain questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your pain.

Groin pain symptom checker

Pain in groin explained

When every step you take is a reminder of the discomfort you feel, groin pain can be a real drag. Your groin is a complex area where your abdomen ends and your legs begin. The large network of muscles, bones, nerves and blood vessels can make diagnosing the cause of groin pain a particularly difficult task, though muscular pain is a common problem.

Athletes often suffer from groin pain, perhaps after taking a wrong step or sustaining a sports injury. The muscles in the area take a lot of stress during physical activity and are particularly vulnerable to strains and pulls.

Common accompanying symptoms of groin pain

Groin pain can be sharp or dull, but is often made worse by movement and may be accompanied by the following symptoms:

What can cause groin pain?

The many muscles in your groin area offer important support to your core and also allow you to twist, turn, and move your legs. Their many functions make them vulnerable to injury. While athletes often complain of these injuries, non-athletes who place sudden stress on their bodies can also suffer from painful problems. The hip joints are closely connected to the muscles and nerves of the groin, so joint problems may cause groin pain. Groin pain may also indicate a problem with the genitourinary tract.

Musculoskeletal causes

Musculoskeletal causes of groin pain may include the following.

  • Muscle and tendon injury: Probably the most common cause of groin pain, small tears of muscles and tendons located in the area can cause bothersome discomfort.
  • Nerve entrapment: Direct compression of a nerve can produce intense discomfort that is often described as shooting or radiating.
  • Stress fracture: Intense training or overuse can cause very small bone fractures that are painful but typically resolve on their own.
  • Arthritis: Wear-and-tear can damage the hip joints over time, leading to discomfort that extends through the groin region.
  • Bursitis: The lubricating fluid that sits between muscles, tendons and bones near joints can become painfully inflamed.

Genitourinary causes

Genitourinary causes of groin pain may include the following.

  • Urinary tract infection: The bladder sits in the groin area and it can become painful if infected.
  • Testicular pain: Infection or problems with blood flow can cause pain from a man's testicles that is felt in the groin.

Other causes

Other causes of groin pain may include the following.

  • Hernia: An organ, like the bowel, can break through the muscles that keep it in place leading to a painful bulge that worsens with cough or when bearing down.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes: Large chains of lymph nodes sit on both sides of the groin region and can become swollen due to an infection or other causes.
  • Kidney stones: Shooting pain from the kidneys can reach around the body all the way to the groin.

10 groin pain conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced groin pain. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Groin hernia requiring a doctor's examination

A groin hernia, or inguinal hernia, is the protrusion of an organ or other tissue – usually a loop of intestine – through a tear or weakness in the lower abdominal muscles. It can be easily felt beneath the skin, especially when the person is standing upright.

A groin hernia is most often found in men doing any kind of heavy lifting, though women can also be affected.

Symptoms include aching, burning groin pain with a sense of heaviness. The pain may be severe, especially on exertion. There may be an abdominal bulge that disappears when the patient lies on his/her back.

It is important to have a suspected inguinal hernia examined by a medical provider for possible treatment. A hernia can become strangulated, which means that its blood supply is cut off. A strangulated hernia is a medical emergency.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and sometimes ultrasound.

Treatment usually involves surgical repair of the hernia, although a small hernia may simply be monitored for any change.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: nausea, nausea or vomiting, fever, groin pain, groin lump

Urgency: Emergency medical service

Groin pain questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your pain.

Groin pain symptom checker

Groin hernia

A groin hernia, also called an inguinal hernia, means that a structure in the lower abdomen – a loop of intestine or a section of fat – has pushed through the muscles of the abdominal wall. This creates a bulge, or hernia, that can be seen and felt in the groin.

A hernia is caused by a weak spot in the abdominal wall muscles, which can separate under heavy lifting or repeated straining. The weakness may be inherited or may be from previous surgery, injury, or pregnancy.

Symptoms include a bulge low down in the abdomen, most visible when the person stands; and pain in the bulge with any strain on the abdominal muscles, such as lifting a heavy object or bending over.

A hernia will not heal on its own. There is the risk of serious complications if the blood supply to the herniated organ becomes reduced or cut off.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination and x-ray or CT scan.

A small hernia may need no treatment. A larger one can be repaired with surgery.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: pain in the lower right abdomen, pain in the lower left abdomen, groin pain, testicle pain, groin lump

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Indirect hernia

Hernias occur when an organ protrudes through part of the abdominal/pelvic wall that normally contains it. Indirect hernias are located near the groin and occur when abdominal contents, such as the intestines, pass through an opening into a channel called the inguinal canal.

Symptoms includ..

Groin abscess

A groin abscess is caused by an infection of the skin or area right under the skin. The infection is typically caused by a bacteria, which your body reacts to by creating a ball of inflammation around the bacteria.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: groin pain, constant groin lump, lump on one side of the groin, painful lump in one side of the groin, hard groin lump

Symptoms that always occur with groin abscess: lump on one side of the groin, constant groin lump

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Iliopsoas bursitis

Bursae are small fluid-filled sacks located around the body in strategic locations to provide a cushion and help reduce friction. Iliopsoas bursitis, or hip bursitis, is an inflammation of the hip bursa, causing pain at the point of the hip. The pain may extend to the outside of the thigh area.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: thigh pain, groin pain, limping, snapping or clicking sensation of the hip, pain in the front of the hip

Symptoms that never occur with iliopsoas bursitis: fever, back pain, butt pain from an injury, pain in both hips, unmovable hip lump, hard hip lump, back pain that shoots down the leg

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Ankylosing spondylitis

"Ankylosing" means a joint has become stiffened and fixed in one position due to injury or disease. "Spondylitis" means inflammation in the joints of the spine. In ankylosing spondylitis, inflammation has damaged the vertebrae of the low back and caused a form of arthrit..

Greater trochanteric pain syndrome

Greater trochanteric pain syndrome, also called trochanteric bursitis or GTPS, is an inflammation of the bursa of the greater trochanter. Bursae are the small "cushions" between tendons, bones, and muscles. The greater trochanter is th..

Mild/moderate hip arthritis

Arthritis of the hip is inflammation of one or more of the joints in the hip. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the primary symptoms of arthritis. Hip arthritis can make it hard to do many everyday activities, such as walking or climbing stairs. It is a major cause of lost work time and a serious disability for many people.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: hip pain, difficulty walking, pain in one hip, limping, groin pain

Symptoms that always occur with mild/moderate hip arthritis: hip pain

Symptoms that never occur with mild/moderate hip arthritis: severe hip pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Groin nerve irritation

There are several nerves supplying the groin, inner thigh and genital region. Entrapment or irritation of one of these nerves can result in pain or numbness in this area. This is often caused by surgery in this area but can happen without a specific cause as well.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: thigh numbness, groin numbness, testicle numbness, sharp testicle or scrotum pain, sharp groin pain

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Ectopic pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy is a fairly common condition (one to two percent of all pregnancies). An ectopic pregnancy is one that occurs outside the uterus, which is the normal site of fetal development.

The hallmark symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy include severe abdominal pain, vaginal bleed..

How to relieve groin pain at home and when to seek professional treatment

Many causes of groin pain are minor muscular injuries, and these can usually be taken care of at home. In some cases, your doctor may be better equipped to handle the problem, especially if it does not resolve on its own or the pain experienced is particularly severe.

At-home treatments

At-home treatments that may provide relief for groin pain include the following.

  • Rest: Though this can be hard for the most active among us, it's especially important to rest the injured area for at least 1-2 weeks until the pain has resolved.
  • Pain medication: Over-the-counter options like Tylenol and Advil are excellent for short-term management of groin pain.
  • Ice: Applied to the groin and thigh, icepacks are an easy and effective way to relieve discomfort.
  • Heat: Some people may find heating pads set to a comfortable temperature are more helpful than ice, while others like to alternate heat and ice.
  • Support: Close-fitting undergarments can be soothing for some causes of groin pain.
  • Stretching: Gentle stretching of the injured area can be helpful during recovery and should be done before any workout.

Groin pain questionnaire

Use our free symptom checker to find out what's causing your pain.

Groin pain symptom checker

Professional treatments

If at-home treatments are not enough, consult your physician for the following.

  • Physical therapy: A professional can teach more advanced techniques and target therapy to the specific area of injury.
  • X-rays: A doctor may order X-rays or some other form of imaging like CT or MRI to evaluate the cause of your pain.
  • Steroid injections: If your pain stems from inflammation in a joint or the surrounding area, steroids can treat this problem.
  • Antibiotics: While not commonly used for groin pain, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if a bacterial infection is suspected.
  • Surgery: Surgery can address more severe muscle tears and bone breaks or other problems like a hernia that may be the source of your discomfort.

When groin pain is an emergency

See a doctor without delay if you have:

  • Sudden onset, severe pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, fever or chills with the pain
  • Severe testicular pain that radiates to the groin
  • Problems urinating, including blood in your urine

FAQs about groin pain

Can groin pain cause erectile dysfunction?

Groin pain generally does not cause erectile dysfunction (ED). However, if you are experiencing groin pain due to trauma or a hip fracture, it's possible that you have also damaged the nerves and blood vessels required to achieve and maintain an erection.

Why does my groin hurt after running?

If you experience groin pain after running, it is possible you may have strained or torn a tendon or ligament. You can reduce the risk of injury by stretching before you run and improving flexibility in your hip joint. Maintaining good form while running and wearing suitable shoes can also decrease your risk of injury.

Which STDS cause groin pain?

Sexually transmitted disease (STD) is also known as sexually transmited infection (STI). STDs that cause groin pain include genital herpes caused by the herpes simplex virus and chancroid caused by the Haemophilus ducreyi bacteria. Other STDs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia can cause pain but are often not painful.

Why do I have groin pain when I have an erection?

Pain during erections may be caused by STDs such as genital herpes and chancroid. Sexually transmitted disease (STD) is also known as sexually transmited infection (STI). Alternatively, there is a condition known as priapism in which you experience erections that persist for hours. Priapism is often, but not always, painful. It is caused by increased blood flow to the penis or decreased blood flow from the penis, and it is associated with sickle cell disease and medications such as antipsychotics and antidepressants. Priapism lasting more than 4 hours needs immediate medical attention.

Why is my grown pain worse at night?

Groin pain that is worse at night may be caused by osteoarthritis or tendonitis of the hip joints. If you are noticing it more when you are laying down to sleep, you may have an uncomfortable mattress or you may be sleeping in an unusual position.

Questions your doctor may ask about groin pain

  • Do your symptoms get worse when you exercise?
  • Were you lifting weights or straining yourself right before your symptoms started?
  • Do you have a history of constipation?
  • Does coughing cause other symptoms to worsen or appear?

Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.

Hear what 2 others are saying
Pain in right groinPosted March 4, 2021 by J.
I have osteoarthritis in my hip and knee on the left side. This eventually resulted in a broken femur near my hip. After an operation and gradually starting to walk again with little aid, I am now experiencing aching groin pain in my right groin. After all the struggle to walk again, as I was quite an active person despite being 75. My main pleasure was getting out to the country or coast to walk my dogs. This is now pulling me down, making it harder to walk and sleep. It's beginning to really pull me down.
Left groin areaPosted November 2, 2020 by V.
Pain at 2:30 night during sleep in left groin area. Had radiculopathy of left leg 4 years back. USG of abdomen revealed normal urinary tract with mildly enlarged prostate. However, PSA in normal range. History of constipation. Surgeon gave Ornidazole for 5 days and ruled out herniation. After treatment, it was OK for 7 days. Now symptoms reappear.
Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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