If you’ve experienced a groin strain, often referred to as a groin pull, then you know just how painful it can be.
Groin strains are common among athletes or anyone who participates in sports that involve jumping or running since the injury is often caused by a sudden change in direction. Fun fact: 10 percent of injuries amongst professional hockey players are groin strains!
But what exactly is a groin strain? What are the other causes? If I have a groin strain, how will it be treated? Is there anything I can do to prevent a groin strain? Read along to learn everything you need to know about groin strains.
What is a groin strain?
A groin strain or groin pull is the result of putting too much stress on the muscles in your groin and thigh area. If these muscles are tended either too forcefully, too suddenly, or both, they can overstretch or tear.
Types of Groin Strains
There are three grades of groin strains, depending on the severity of the injury:
- Grade 1 Groin Strain: Mild pain with little to no loss of movement or strength. Recovery typically takes two to three weeks.
- Grade 2 Groin Strain: Modern pain with mild to moderate loss of movement or strength; some tissue damage. Recovery typically takes two to three months.
- Grade 3 Groin Strain: Severe pain with severe loss of movement, strength, and function; a complete tear of the muscle. Recovery typically takes four months.
Causes of Groin Strains
Groin strains are caused by any movement that puts too much stress on the muscles in the groin and thigh area. This is why athletes, whether professional or recreational, commonly experience the injury.
The majority of groin strains are caused by straining the adductor muscle while kicking. This is why most athletes experience a groin strain on their dominant leg.
Groin strains can also be caused by turning too quickly during an activity, whether jumping, running, skating, or the like.
While athletes commonly experience groin strains, the injury can also be caused during a fall, while lifting heavy objects, or any activity that causes overuse and long-term strength of the muscles.
Groin Strain Symptoms
Not sure what a groin strain feels like? Be on the lookout for these symptoms:
- Pain and soreness in your groin area
- Pain and soreness in your inner thigh
- Pain that occurs when you bring your legs together or when you raise your knee
- Popping or snapping sensation during the injury
Groin Strain or Hernia
Groin strains and hernias share some symptoms, including groin pain and pain felt during exertion. However, individuals with a hernia will likely feel pain in the lower abdomen, especially when they cough, laugh, or sneeze. In addition, individuals with a hernia will feel chronic pain only during exertion, whereas a groin strain may be acutely painful and tender even at rest.
How is a groin strain diagnosed?
To diagnose a groin strain, your doctor will perform a physical exam. During the physical exam, they will consider your pain levels and assess your movement and strength in the injured area.
In some cases, your doctor will order additional tests like X-rays or an MRI to rule out any other potential problems.
Groin Strain Treatment
Luckily, a groin strain will almost always heal on its own, which means you can treat your injury from home. Here is what you should do:
- Compress your thigh: Use an elastic bandage or compression tape around your thigh. This will help reduce the swelling in the area.
- Ice the inside of your thigh: Icing the inside of your thigh will reduce the pain and swelling. If possible, we recommend doing this for 30 minutes every four or so hours until the pain is gone.
- Anti-inflammatory painkillers: Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers (NSAIDs) like aspirin or ibuprofen can ease the pain and swelling associated with your groin strain. NSAIDs shouldn’t be taken for an extended period of time, so be sure to talk to your doctor if your groin strain symptoms last for more than a week.
- Active stretching and strength building: As part of the healing process, your doctor may guide you in active stretching and strengthening exercises. What stretches and exercises you do depend on your grade of injury, so be sure to talk to your doctor.
Groin Strain Exercises: Stretches to Ease Pain and Strengthen Your Muscles
If you have a mild groin strain, try these exercises. If you feel any pain in the groin or thigh area, be sure to stop the stretch right away.
- Hamstring Stretch: To perform a hamstring stretch, lie on your back with your buttock near a doorway. Stretch one leg at a time (or just your uninjured leg) and rest it in front of you, going through the door frame. Raise your other leg (or your injured leg) and rest it against the wall next to the door frame. Try to keep your leg as straight as possible. You should feel a stretch in the back of your thigh, but it shouldn’t be painful. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat it three times.
- Hip Adductor Stretch: To perform a hip adductor stretch, lie on your back and bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Gently spread your knees apart and stretch the muscles on the inside of your thighs. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat it three times. Once the pain in your groin decreases, try these stretches:
- Side-Lying Leg Lift, Crossover: To perform a side-lying leg lift, lie on your injured side and bend your top leg while placing your foot in front of the bottom leg, keeping the bottom leg straight. Gently raise your injured leg as far as you can comfortably hold it. Hold this position for five seconds. Keep your hips still while lifting your leg. Hold this position for five seconds and then gently lower your leg. Do three sets of 15.
- Straight Leg Raise: To perform a straight leg raise, lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. On your injured side, bend your knee and place your foot flat on the floor. Tighten the thigh muscle on your uninjured side and left your leg a few inches off of the floor. Be sure to keep your leg straight and your thigh muscle tight. Gently lower your leg back down onto the floor. Do three sets of 15.
How to Prevent Groin Strains
No one wants to deal with the pain and debilitating power of a groin strain. Luckily, with a little effort, you can avoid them.
- Always warm up before exercising, especially your groin and leg muscles. Going for a light job before moving on to other serious forms of exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of muscle strains.
- Don’t jump right into an intense exercise regimen. Start off slow and ease your way into it over time. We recommend no more than a 10 percent increase in physical activity each week
- Never exercise if you feel any pain or tightness in your groin or the inside of your thigh. If you experience any pain in the middle of exercising, stop.
- Regularly perform strengthening exercises for your thigh muscles.
Request An Appointment At The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re suffering from a groin strain, let us help you get back to doing the things you love. Contact us today to schedule an appointment
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.