Read below about groin pain, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your groin pain 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 Pain Symptoms

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 [1]. The muscles in the area take a lot of stress during physical activity and are particularly vulnerable to strains and pulls.

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

Groin Pain Causes Overview

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 [2]. 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:

  • 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 [3].
  • 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:

  • 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:

  • 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 [4].
  • 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 [5].

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Groin Pain

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced groin pain. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Groin Hernia Requiring a Doctor's Examination

    A hernia occurs when a loop of intestine bulges out through the abdominal wall. With age, the supportive tissues that keep organs within the abdomen become weaker, and the risk for a hernia increases. Groin hernias, called inguinal hernias, are the most common type. They often result due to muscle straining, such as during heavy lifting.A complicated groin hernia, also called an incarcerated hernia, is a medical emergency. This type of hernia cannot be easily reduced, in other words pushed back without surgery. An incarcerated hernia is at high risk of becoming strangulated, meaning that pressure on the loop of bowel can cause the trapped segment to lose blood supply. Unless the blood supply is restored promptly, the tissue can rapidly die. This is a life-threatening condition.

    Complicated (incarcerated) groin hernias are a life-threatening condition. However, if treatment is performed early, the prognosis after surgery is excellent.Chronic pain 1 year out from the surgery is reported by some patients, but it is likely to dissipate over time.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, nausea or vomiting, fever, groin pain, groin lump
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  2. 2.Groin Hernia

    A hernia occurs when a loop of intestine bulges out through the abdominal wall. With age, the supportive tissues that keep organs within the abdomen become weaker, and the risk for a hernia increases. Groin hernias, called inguinal hernias, are the most common type. They often result due to muscle straining, such as during heavy lifting.

    Groin hernias are not a life-threatening condition. Approximately one third of patients report chronic groin pain 1 year or longer after a hernia repair, but it is likely to dissipate over time. A hernia may recur, although the causes of this are highly variable, and depend on the degree of abdominal wall weakness and the technique of repair.

    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
  3. 3.Indirect Hernia

    A hernia occurs when an organ or internal body part bulges through the abdominal wall. In the case of indirect hernia, the hernia is a result an improperly failed deep inguinal ring after the testicle has passed through it.

    Groin hernias are not a life-threatening condition. Approximately one third of patients report chronic groin pain 1 year or longer after a hernia repair, but it is likely to dissipate over time. A hernia may recur, although the causes of this are highly variable, and depend on the degree of abdominal wall weakness and the technique of repair.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    groin pain, groin lump, mild groin pain, moderate groin pain, painful lump in one side of the groin
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.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.

    Cured with drainage but can often come back later unless a surgeon fully removes the lining of the abscess

    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
  5. 5.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.

    Problem should resolve within weeks to months.

    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

    Groin Pain Checker

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  6. 6.Ankylosing Spondylitis

    Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis of the spine. 'Arthritis' means inflammation of joints, and in ankylosing spondylitis this means that there is inflammation (irritation and swelling) between the disks that make up the spine. There can also be inflammation between the spine and the pelvis. Ankylosing spondylitis occurs more often in men and in people who have family members with the same disease.

    This is a chronic condition.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, back pain, trouble sleeping, joint pain, hip pain
    Symptoms that always occur with ankylosing spondylitis:
    back pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome

    Greater trochanteric pain syndrome is a common cause of hip pain caused by damage to the tendons and/or bursa (fluid-filled sac near a joint) at the outside point of the hip known as the greater trochanter.

    Weeks to years

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    lower back pain, pain in the outside of the hip, moderate hip pain, groin pain, limping
    Symptoms that always occur with greater trochanteric pain syndrome:
    pain in the outside of the hip
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.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.

    Varies with treatment

    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
  9. 9.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.

    Resolution of symptoms depends on cause and extent of the neuralgia.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    thigh numbness, groin numbness, testicle numbness, sharp testicle or scrotum pain, sharp groin pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  10. 10.Ectopic Pregnancy

    Ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. The vast majority of ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tubes.

    Treatment depends on how far the pregnancy has progressed but in all cases leads to the termination of the embryo.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea or vomiting, vaginal bleeding, pelvis pain, moderate abdominal pain
    Symptoms that never occur with ectopic pregnancy:
    disapearance of periods for over a year
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

Groin Pain Treatments and Relief

Many causes of groin pain are minor muscular injuries, and these can usually be taken care of at home [6,7]. 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:

  • 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.

Professional treatments:

  • 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.

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

Here are some frequently asked questions 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

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

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

Groin Pain Quiz

Groin Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced groin pain have also experienced:

    • 14% Lower Back Pain
    • 5% Hip Pain
    • 3% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)
  • People who have experienced groin pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 32% Over a Month
    • 27% Less Than a Week
    • 18% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced groin pain were most often matched with:

    • 46% Groin Hernia Requiring a Doctor's Examination
    • 26% Groin Hernia
    • 26% Indirect Hernia
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

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References

  1. de Sa D, Holmich P, Phillips M, et al. Athletic Groin Pain: A Systematic Review of Surgical Diagnoses, Investigations and Treatment. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2016;50(19):1181-1186. NCBI Link.
  2. Holmich P. Groin Pain. BMJ Best Practice. Updated March 2018. BMJ Best Practice Link.
  3. Martin R, Martin HD, Kivlan BR. Nerve Entrapment in the Hip Region: Current Concepts Review. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2017;12(7):1163-1173. NCBI Link.
  4. Richardson WS, Jones DG, Winters JC, McQueen MA. The Treatment of Inguinal Pain. The Ochsner Journal. 2009;9(1):11-13. NCBI Link.
  5. Sobol J. Groin Pain. Penn Medicine. Updated August 26, 2017. Penn Medicine Link.
  6. Almeida MO, Silva BNG, Andriolo RB, Atallah AN, Peccin MS. Conservative Treatment for Exercise-Related Groin Pain. Cochrane. Published June 6, 2013. Cochrane Link.
  7. Blahd Jr WH, Thompson EG, Husney A, Romito K, eds. Groin Problems and Injuries. UW Health. Updated November 20, 2017. UW Health Link.