Dealing With Groin Pain

It's Usually a Simple Muscle Tear That's Easy to Treat

Groin Pain
Should You Worry About Groin Pain. Simon Winnall/Taxi/Getty Images

If you've ever experienced groin pain, you know how unpleasant it can be to feel discomfort in this area of your body. Typically, it's the result of a pulled or strained adductor, or inner thigh, muscle. The adductors are the ones that allow you to squeeze your legs toward each other—when you bring them together during a jumping jack, for example. The adductors attach from the pelvis to the femur (thigh bone) and also help stabilize the hip joint.

When one of the adductors is pulled or strained from being stretched past its limit, the result is similar to the same type of injury to any other muscle: small tears in the muscle that cause localized pain and swelling and sometimes even visible bruising. A severe tear can cause sudden acute pain and pain that increases with resistance movements or stretching the inner thigh and hamstrings.

The adductor muscles are especially vulnerable during activities that involve suddent changes of direction while running, or quick starts and stops. That's why they're common injuries among athletes who play field or court sports. 

Another possible cause of groin pain is a sports hernia, which is a weakening of the muscles or tendons of the lower abdominal wall, bringing about a dull aching pain that intensifies with exercise. An inguinal hernia typically creates a bulging protrusion in the lower abdomen or upper groin that's hard to miss.​

Easing the Ache

In most cases, treating groin pain is similar to taking care of any other muscle pull or strain. For immediate relief, start by using  R.I.C.E.—rest, ice, compression, and elevation. You might also take an anti-inflammatory medication such as Advil (ibuprofen). Such over-the-counter drugs can be helpful to reduce pain and inflammation for up to a week after the injury.

Some athletes find that taping the groin can reduce pain and help protect from further injury. You can buy kinesiology tape that's precut for taping the groin. Applying special precut groin tape, such as Scrip Spidertech Tape is one way to easily tape the groin area.

When the swelling goes down and you start to feel better, don't jump right back into your usual activity. Start with gentle groin stretching and progress to a strengthening program of low-intensity exercises.As you begin to increase your activity you may find it helpful to ice the area after exercise to prevent swelling. After applying the ice, wrap the thigh to keep it compressed for 15 to 20 minutes.

If you're a runner, you can hit the track or treadmill again while you're recovering, but take it slow, be gentle with your body, and don't do any uphill running or sprinting. Pay attention to how the injured area feels. If you experience pain or tenderness, dial back the intensity of your activity. Take care and you should be able to get back to regular activity within two or three weeks.