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Learning About Groin Strain

Last week we discussed Ankle Sprains in our blog. This week we are covering Groin strains, another very common injury which occurs. Our chartered Physiotherapist Margo Heffernan, from our Waterford Clinic, outlines the injury in detail.

How Does a Groin Strain Occur?

A groin strain is a partial tear of the small fibers of the adductor muscles. The adductorsare a group of three muscles located on the inner aspect of the thigh. They start in the groin area and run down the inner thigh attaching to the inner side of the knee.

Athletes competing in sports that require running, changes in direction, repetitive kicking and physical contact such as football, GAA, rugby and hockey, are at a relatively higher risk of experiencing episodes of groin injury.

Groin injuries account of 5% to 18% of all sport-related injuries.

Symptoms of a Groin Strain

Some of the symptoms you may experience include:

  • Local pain and tenderness

  • Swelling and bruising

  • Pain bringing knees together

  • Pain when raising your knee

  • Difficulty with walking and running depending of the severity of the injury.

Causes of Groin Strain

The injury can arise from putting too much stress on muscles in your groin and thigh. If these muscles are tensed too forcefully or too suddenly, they can get over-stretched or torn. Injury is also related to factors including hip muscle strength, preseason conditioning, and previous injury.

Treatment of Groin Strain

Similar to most soft tissue injuries, in the first 48 hrs following acute groin injury initial treatment follows the R.I.C.E. protocol (Rest Ice Compression Elevation)

Early presentation to your chartered physiotherapist with an acute groin injury is important in order to avoid the possiblity of further damage to the soft tissues and decrease liklihood of recurrence. Your physiotherapist will be able to advise you on appropriate rest and rehabilitation of the groin injury as a first-line intervention.

Studies have shown that exercise, particularly strengthening exercise of the hip and abdominal muscle groups is an effective intervention for athletes with groin injury. Combined treatment approach, involving manual therapy, stretching and graded strengthening, in the treatment of groin injury has been shown to be most effective and gains much quicker return to sport than exercise alone.

The evidence also suggests that a duration of treatment and rehabilitation of between 4 up to 16 weeks may be required for full functional recovery of the groin dependent on the severity of the initial injury. This is in contrast to injury of other major muscle groups for example hamstrings or quads where return to sport is usually achieved within 4-8 weeks.

Appropriate strengthening of core muscle groups , (see blogs on Core Conditioning-More than just abs Part 1 and Part 2 ) and maintaining fitness of opposing muscle groups is key to the rehabilitation of the groin injury, ie hip adductors and abductors, hip adductors and abdominals. Development of a personal pre-exercise stretching and proper warm-up protocol with your physiotherapist will also ensure best possible long term recovery and help decrease risk of recurrence.

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