Groin Strain Assessment

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Symptoms of an acute groin strain are usually fairly obvious at the time of injury. Long standing or recurrent groin pain often requires further investigation.

An acute groin or adductor strain is one which has occurred suddenly or is acutely painful. Groin strain symptoms will include a sudden sharp pain or pull in the groin area. Often the athlete will be able to differentiate whether the pain is in the belly of the muscle, at the junction of the muscle and tendon which is much higher or where the muscles tendon attaches to the pelvis.

A groin strain can be very minor where just a few fibers are torn. In this case the athlete may not feel much in the way of pain. Movements may be almost normal and tenderness only felt when palpating or pressing in. A more severe injury will have other signs include swelling and bruising which is caused from the internal bleeding of the torn muscle. Over time the bruising may change color and sink lower towards the knee from the effects of gravity.

Groin strain assessment

A therapist will perform a full examination which will include:

Range of motion: Testing the range of motion available at the hip joint or putting the suspected injured muscles on stretch may reproduce symptoms. By performing a particular movement or stretch which reproduces pain the therapist can start to build a picture of which muscles are injured. Moving the leg into abduction or out to the site puts the groin muscles on stretch and can give feedback about flexibility. In the healthy athlete both legs should have equal flexibility.

Resisted muscle tests - involve the therapist applying resistance as the patient takes the injured leg through a range of movement. Again, if pain is reproduced this gives information to the therapist about the type and location of the injury as well as feedback on muscle strength. Resisted muscle tests should be done with the leg straight and bent.

How bad is my groin strain?

Grade 1

Pectineus muscleGrade 1 groin strain is a minor tear where less than 10% of fibers are damaged. With grade 1 groin strain symptoms the athlete feels discomfort in the groin or inner thigh. This may not be noticed until after exercise stops. The groin muscles will usually feel tight and there may be an area which is tender to touch. Walking is normal, discomfort may only be when running or even just on changes in direction.

Grade 2

A 2 injury is a moderate tear which can be anything from 10 to 90% of fibres torn. The patient will feel a sudden sharp pain in the groin area or adductor muscles during exercise. There may be tightening of the groin muscles that may not be present until the following day. Minor bruising or swelling may develop but this might not occur until a couple of days after the initial injury. Weakness and possibly pain on contracting the adductor muscles or squeeze your legs together. Walking may be affected and running will be painful.

Grade 3

Gracilis muscleGrade 3 groin strains are the most serious, being either partial or full ruptures. Grade 3 groin strain symptoms will include severe pain during exercise, often on changing direction suddenly when sprinting. They will be unable to contract the groin muscles or squeeze the legs together. Substantial swelling and bruising on the inner thigh will develop within 24 hours. They will feel pain on attempting to stretch the groin muscles and it may even be possible to feel a gap or lump in the muscle.

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