Groin pain can occur suddenly or may develop gradually over time through overuse, or an acute injury which has failed to heal properly. Here we explain the common injuries which cause groin pain.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Chaminda Goonetilleke, 10th Jan. 2022
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Sudden onset groin pain
The following are common injuries which cause sudden onset or acute groin pain:
A groin strain is a tear or rupture to any of the adductor muscles on the inside of the thigh. Symptoms include:
- A sudden sharp pain in the inner thigh.
- Pain can range from a mild niggling injury to very severe muscle tears which are completely debilitating.
- Explosive movements and changing direction quickly can cause groin pain, especially if you haven’t warmed up properly and have tight adductor muscles.
- More on groin strain
A scrotal contusion is bleeding and bruising in the scrotum, or testicles following a direct impact from a ball or opponent. Symptoms include:
- Severe pain at the time of impact or trauma.
- There may be swelling in the testicles along with bruising which may appear later.
- Nausea or feeling of sickness is likely and the area is likely to be tender for a few days.
- More on Scrotal contusion
A pelvic fracture is a break of any part of the pelvis. Symptoms will vary greatly depending on the severity or type of fracture and any complications involved.
- More substantial fractures may include instant pain on impact, or at the time of trauma.
- Bruising may develop within 48 hours and usually much quicker.
- More on Pelvic fractures
Gradual onset groin pain
The following injuries cause gradual onset or chronic groin pain. You probably will not be able to identify a specific point in time when your injury occured.
The adductor muscles can become inflamed through overuse or following a strain that isn’t treated properly. Symptoms include:
- Pain and stiffness at the top of the groin.
- Groin pain can travel down the leg and make it difficult to run.
- Overuse or previous injury can make the tendons that attach the muscles to the bone inflamed.
- More on Groin tendonitis
Iliopsoas bursitis & inflammation
The iliopsoas muscle is a powerful hip flexor used to bring the knee up at speed when running. Inflammation of the tendon or the bursa (small sack of fluid) can cause:
- Gradual onset pain deep in the groin area.
- The muscle or tendon itself can become inflamed causing groin pain and a feeling of tightness and swelling.
- Symptoms include pain at the front of the hip which may radiate down to the knee or even into the buttocks.
Iliopsoas bursitis symptoms and iliopsoas tendon inflammation have similar symptoms and may be difficult to distinguish between the two.
A hernia occurs when an internal part of the body (such as the intestine), pushes through a weakness in the overlying muscle wall, resulting in a soft lump. There are different types of hernia. An inguinal or femoral hernia can give rise to:
- Groin pain which increases with exercise.
- Coughing and sneezing trigger pain and can give rise to a swelling/lump.
- More on Hernia
Gilmore’s Groin occurs when excessive strain is placed on the groin and pelvic area, usually through kicking sports such as soccer and rugby. Symptoms consist of
- Pain in the groin area which increases when running, sprinting, twisting, and turning.
- After training, or the following day, you may feel stiff or sore.
- Coughing and sneezing may also cause groin pain.
More on Gilmore’s groin
Osteitis pubis is also known now as pubic bone stress injury. Symptoms consist of:
- Groin pain which originates from the pubic bones at the front of the pelvis.
- The pain can come on gradually and will likely be felt when running or doing exercises like sit-ups.
- More on Osteitis pubis
Spermatic cord torsion
Although the spermatic cord gets twisted, this is usually referred to as testicular torsion
Spermatic cord torsion is the twisting of the testicle resulting in reduced blood flow through the tissues which connects it to the abdomen. This can be a serious condition as a complete loss of blood flow would quite quickly result in the death of the testicle.
- Symptoms of spermatic cord torsion include sudden severe pain in the scrotum with swelling and tenderness.
- The athlete may have a feeling of heaviness in the testicle as well as experience nausea and vomiting.
- Causes may include abnormal mobility of the testicle, a direct impact can cause the testicle to rotate.
- Nearly all torsions occur in adolescent boys. Larger testicles are more likely to become twisted.
- More on Spermatic cord torsion
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