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Groin Strains Symptoms & Treatment

The groin strain is a painful injury which our physiotherapists regularly see in our clinics. It commonly occurs while people are playing sports but can happen during any physical activity. The author of today’s post Rob Hanley, is our physiotherapist in our clinic in Dooradoyle, Limerick. Rob will talk us through how groin strains occur, how they are treated and also how to avoid the re-occurrence of the injury. He has seen countless incidences of groin strains so is an expert in this area!!

What does the Groin do?

The groin muscles are a group of muscles that connect the pubic area to the inner thigh. Their main job is to pull the legs together but also help to lift the legs up in the air and stabilise the pelvis. As a result, the groin muscles are very important in activities involving running, changing direction and kicking.

What is a Groin Strain? 

A groin strain is a partial tear of these muscles and is exceedingly common in sports people. They account for up to 18% of all sport related injuries and if you play any kind of sport that involves twisting or turning then you are likely to have gotten some degree of groin strain  at some stage. Sports involving very sudden changes of direction are particularly susceptible such as football, soccer, rugby and hurling to name but a few. Groin strains can be mild, moderate or severe and range from the very simple to the very complex. Symptoms include:

Sudden onset of pain and tenderness in the groin when running or playing sportSwelling and bruisingPain bringing knees togetherPain when raising your kneeDifficulty with walking and running depending of the severity of the injury.

Mild strains heal quickly and an intensive rehabilitation program can have you back playing sport in as little as a few weeks.  Extreme caution needs to being exercised, however, as returning to sport with a groin strain that has not completely healed, that is without full return of normal  flexibility, strength, speed and endurance can lead to restrains that can have you out for months. It is thus absolutely imperative that if you get pain in this area that you get it checked out by a medical professional.

Treatment For Groin Strain:

Initial treatment of a groin strain is straight forward: Rest Ice Compression and Elevation (R.I.C.E) for 48 hours. This will help take down any inflammation in the area and speed up the healing process.

Initial treatment of a groin strain is straight forward: Rest Ice Compression and Elevation (R.I.C.E) for 48 hours. This will help take down any inflammation in the area and speed up the healing process.

Next step is to get yourself to a medical professional trained in sports injuries to confirm that what you have is indeed a groin strain. Chartered physiotherapists are experts in the treatment of groin strains and  use techniques such as massage or dry needling which will help the pain settle. They will also get you started on your rehabilitation program to get you back to sport as quickly as possible. 

Importantly, your Chartered Physiotherapist will also be able to tell you if your pain is coming from parts of your body other than your groin muscles. Though relatively uncommon, there are numerous conditions that at first glance will feel and behave like a simple groin strain but if left go untreated can have disastrous consequences.

How To Notice A Groin Strain Occurring…

Be particularly careful of pain that comes on gradually during sport, as opposed to suddenly, which you would normally expect to occur with a groin strain. Be also careful of pain that comes  on towards the end of activity or even after activity. These symptoms along with pain very high up in the tendons of the groin close to the pubic area, may be a sign of tendinitis or conditions such as ostitis pubis which if left to develop can lead to long spells out of sport, commonly 6-9 months. A tear of the labrum which makes up the socket of the hip joint must also be out-ruled as if left untreated develops into to degenerative hip joint disease.

Children or teenagers with long-standing groin pain or even those that have a painless limp when walking should also undergo examination. Perthe’s Disease occurs in 4-10 year olds and the use of a brace or surgery may be required.

A slipped capital femoral epiphysis, essentially a slip of the ball of the hip joint occurs in older children, particularly 12 to 15 year old boys. This condition can lead to the hip bone dying and, if severe needs emergency surgery.

Other conditions that can resemble a groin strain include stress fracture of the hip, bursitis, hernias and osteomyelitis. Medical conditions such as appendicitis, prostatitis, urinary tract infections and gynaecological conditions can also appear like a groin strain and must be treated medically.

Now once you know that your groin pain is indeed down to a strained muscle, rehabilitation begins. Each individual’s progam must be tailor made and be specific to the part of the groin strained and indeed the type of sport they wish to return to. As you can imagine, the groin muscles of a swimmer have a very different job to that of a rugby centre so rehabilitation must be guided with this in mind. Contact your Chartered Physiotherapist and they will put your through a graded program and return you safely and quickly to your chosen sport.