Read below about groin injury, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your groin injury from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Groin Injury Symptoms

Groin injuries are quite common and represent about 4 percent of sports injuries in adults. Some groin injuries are acute, occurring suddenly during activity, and are particularly common in sports like soccer, tennis, or basketball. Groin injuries can also be chronic, developing slowly over time due to consistent repetitive motion. Injuries to the muscles, joints, bones, and nerves in the groin are common causes of groin injury symptoms in athletes or active adults.

Most acute groin injuries will heal on their own with rest and over-the-counter treatment. Some chronic groin injuries need to be evaluated by a medical professional and require physical therapy or other more invasive treatment.

It is important to note that there are abdominal and pelvic organs near the groin, and problems in an organ can also cause groin pain symptoms. If you are experiencing extreme pain, it is important to rule out these potentially more serious causes of groin pain before pursuing a musculoskeletal cause.

Groin injury symptoms include:

  • Pain that worsens with movement
  • Pain with touch
  • Pain with straining or coughing
  • Snapping sensation
  • Pain radiating down the inside of the thigh

Groin Injury Causes Overview

Groin pain in an athlete or active adult is commonly due to an injury to the muscles, bones, and joints in the groin. Common musculoskeletal causes of groin pain include muscle strain, joint inflammation, stress fracture, or nerve injury. However, groin pain can also be a sign of infection or inflammation in abdominal or pelvic organs, including the appendix, colon, urinary tract, and reproductive organs. Certain medical conditions that impact the hip joint can also cause groin pain.

Musculoskeletal groin injury causes:

  • Muscular Injury: Partial tear or strain to one of the muscles in the groin is the most common cause of acute groin pain in the athlete or active adult.
  • Nerve Injury: Compression or injury to nerves in the groin can cause shooting pain.
  • Joint Injury: Inflammation to the joints in the pelvis can cause groin pain. Additionally, some people are born with abnormalities to the hip joint that can cause groin pain.
  • Bone Injury: Trauma can result in fracture of the pelvis. Additionally, athletes can cause small fractures to the bones in the pelvis from overuse. This is particularly common in young female athletes with nutritional or hormonal imbalance.

Abdominal conditions:

  • Sports Hernia: A hernia is caused by a weakness in the muscles of the abdominal wall and can manifest as deep groin pain. Typically, a hernia presents as a bulge in the groin. However, a sports hernia may present with pain, but no obvious bulge.
  • Infection: Infection in the appendix or large bowel can cause groin pain. Viral or bacterial infection can also cause swollen lymph nodes in the groin.
  • Inflammation: Inflammatory or autoimmune disorders in the large bowel can cause groin pain.

Pelvic conditions:

  • Infection: Infection in the urinary tract or kidneys can cause groin pain. Infection in the prostate or testicle may cause groin pain in a male.
  • Blood supply disruption: The blood supply to the testicle can be compromised if the testicle becomes twisted. This is a serious cause of groin pain that must be evaluated immediately.

2 Potential Groin Injury Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Cellulitis

    Cellulitis is an infection of the skin and tissues underneath it. It is most commonly caused by Group A strep and typically enters the body through a break in the skin.

    Dependent on severity of infection

    Top Symptoms:
    fever, groin pain, groin redness, painful groin swelling, groin injury
    Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis:
    groin redness, area of skin redness
    Primary care doctor

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  2. 2.Groin Bruise

    A bruise is the damage of the blood vessels that return blood to the heart (the capillaries and veins), which causes pooling of the blood. This explains the blue/purple color of most bruises.

    Bruises will begin to heal within a week.

    Top Symptoms:
    groin pain, constant groin pain, swollen groin, groin injury, groin pain from an injury
    Symptoms that always occur with groin bruise:
    groin pain from an injury, groin injury, constant groin pain

Groin Injury Treatments and Relief

Some musculoskeletal causes of groin pain should be evaluated by a doctor, while others can be treated at home with over-the-counter remedies. The intra-abdominal and genitourinary conditions that cause groin pain need to be evaluated by a doctor. Infectious causes may require antibiotics or surgery in severe cases. Inflammatory abdominal or genitourinary causes may require further workup and medication.

Seek emergency treatment if:

Home groin injury treatments include:

  • Rest: Many acute groin injuries will heal on their own with rest. Avoid activities that exacerbate the pain and take it easy for a few days.
  • Stretching: Stretching adductors and hip flexors may help with groin pain.
  • Ice: Particularly helpful to reduce inflammation in acute groin injury.
  • Pain medication: Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to manage groin pain.

Medical professional groin injury treatments include:

  • Imaging: A physician may order X-rays or an MRI of the pelvis to assess the bones and joints in the pelvis for causes of groin pain.
  • Physical therapy: A physician may recommend physical therapy for acute or chronic groin injuries. Physical therapy can assess biomechanical abnormalities that may be contributing to overuse injury and work to correct them.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be required for some of the intra-abdominal or genitourinary infections that can cause groin pain.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be required for some severe intraabdominal causes of groin pain such as appendicitis or diverticulitis. Additionally, sports hernias typically require surgical repair.
  • Steroid injections: In cases where nerve injury causes groin pain, local corticosteroid injections can relieve pain.

FAQs About Groin Injury

Here are some frequently asked questions about groin injury.

Can a groin injury cause swollen lymph nodes?

A musculoskeletal injury in the groin does not typically cause swollen lymph nodes. The most common cause of swollen lymph nodes is viral or bacterial infection. Typically, swollen lymph nodes are due to a viral infection and don't require treatment. However, you should see a physician if you have swollen lymph nodes that have been present for more than 2 weeks, lymph nodes that continue to enlarge, or have accompanying persistent fever, night sweats, or weight loss.

Do groin injuries lead to erectile dysfunction?

Most groin injuries do not lead to erectile dysfunction. Groin injuries are common among athletes or active adults, and most commonly involve the muscles around the hips and in the upper leg. Typically, groin injuries will heal on their own with rest and lifestyle modification. However, there are some causes of groin pain that need to be evaluated by a doctor. It is possible that serious traumatic injury to the pelvis or pelvic surgery may disrupt nerves and lead to erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction has many different medical, psychological, or mechanical causes and should be evaluated by a doctor.

Can a pulled groin muscle cause testicle pain?

It is possible that a pulled groin muscle can cause pain that radiates to the testicle. However there are multiple, more serious causes of testicular pain that should be considered. Infections in the testicle and reduced blood supply due to twisting of the testicle are two serious conditions that cause testicular pain and require immediate intervention by a medical doctor. Hernia can also cause groin pain that radiates to the testicle, and should be evaluated by a medical doctor as well.

Are hernias dangerous if left untreated?

A hernia is a defect in the abdominal wall, allowing for abdominal organs to protrude through. A hernia typically presents as a bulge in the groin, worse with straining, coughing, or heavy lifting. However, a sports hernia can present as groin pain with no obvious bulge. A hernia itself is not dangerous, however, there is a possibility that part of the intestine can protrude through the hernia and become stuck, cutting off the blood supply to the bowel. This is called strangulation, and is an emergent condition requiring surgery. All hernias should be evaluated by a medical doctor who can help determine the likelihood of strangulation and decide if surgery is indicated.

What's the difference between a pulled groin and a hernia?

A pulled groin is common injury due to strain or partial tear of the muscles in the groin. A hernia is a weakening of the abdominal wall that can manifest as deep groin pain with a bulge in the groin. However, athletes can get sports hernias, which present with deep groin pain and no obvious bulge. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a pulled groin muscle and sports hernia. However, typically, a pulled groin muscle will heal with rest and over-the-counter remedies within one to two weeks. If groin pain persists beyond this time period, it should be evaluated by a medical doctor.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Groin Injury

  • Q.Does coughing cause other symptoms to worsen or appear?
  • Q.Do your symptoms get worse when you exercise?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Do you have a rash?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our groin injury symptom checker to find out more.

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Groin Injury Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced groin injury have also experienced:

    • 50% Groin Bruise
    • 25% Recent Cutting Accident
    • 25% Groin Pain
  • People who have experienced groin injury were most often matched with:

    • 42% Cellulitis
    • 14% Groin Bruise
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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