What is Groin Pain?

Groin pain is defined as pain in the area where the inner, upper thigh and lower abdomen meet.

Mild groin pain is often caused by a minor injury that you may not have even noticed. Home treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve your pain.

When a serious problem is causing groin pain, you will often have other symptoms. It is therefore important to look for other signs of illness when you have groin pain but no known injury. Most hernias have other symptoms besides groin pain, though pain may be an early sign of an inguinal hernia.

What are the Causes?

The most common cause of groin pain is muscle, tendon or ligament strain, particularly in athletes who play sports such as hockey, soccer and football. Groin pain may occur immediately after an injury, or pain may come on gradually over a period of weeks or even months. Groin pain may be worsened by continued use of the injured area.

Less common causes of groin pain include a bone injury or fracture, a hernia, or even kidney stones. Although testicle pain and groin pain are different, a testicle condition can sometimes cause pain that spreads to the groin area.

Direct and indirect causes of groin pain can include:

  • Avascular necrosis (death of bone tissue due to limited blood flow)
  • Avulsion fracture: (ligament or tendon pulled from the bone)
  • Bursitis (joint inflammation)
  • Epididymitis (testicle inflammation)
  • Hydrocele (swelling of the scrotum)
  • Inguinal hernia
  • Kidney stones
  • Mumps
  • Muscle strain
  • Orchitis (inflamed testicle)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pinched nerve
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Retractile testicle (testicle that moves between the scrotum and abdomen)
  • Sciatica
  • Scrotal masses
  • Spermatocele (fluid buildup in the testicle)
  • Stress fractures
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Tendinitis
  • Testicular cancer
  • Testicular torsion (twisted testicle)
  • Kidney stones
  • Varicocele (enlarged veins in the scrotum)

What are the Symptoms?

  • Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
  • You have sudden, severe pain in the hernia area.
  • You have nausea or vomiting.
  • You have belly pain and are not passing gas or stool.
  • You cannot push your hernia back into place with gentle pressure when you are lying down.
  • The skin over the hernia turns red or becomes tender.

What are the Treatments?

Home treatment measures can help relieve pain, swelling, and bruising and promote healing after a groin injury. These home treatment measures also may be helpful for non-injury problems. But if you think you may have a more severe injury, use first aid measures while you arrange to be checked by your doctor.

  • Rest. Rest and protect an injured or sore groin area for 1 to 2 weeks. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness. Do not do intense activities while you still have pain. A pulled muscle (strain) in the groin can take several weeks to heal.
  • Ice. Cold will reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice or cold pack immediately to reduce swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. A bag of frozen peas or corn may work as a cold pack. Protect your skin from frostbite by placing a cloth between the ice and your skin. After 48 to 72 hours, if the swelling is gone, apply warmth to the area that hurts.
  • Support. While you are recovering from a groin injury, wear underwear that supports the injured area. Females can use workout underwear or shorts with a snug fit. For males, it’s best to wear jockey shorts with a snug fit rather than boxer shorts.

It may take 4 to 6 weeks or longer for a minor groin injury to heal. Stretching and strengthening exercises will help you gradually return to your normal activities.

Stretching exercises begin with range-of-motion exercises. These are controlled stretches that prevent stiffness and tendon shortening. Gently bend, straighten, and rotate your leg and hip. If you have increasing pain, slow down or stop the exercises.

You may do strengthening exercises with light weights, such as ankle weights, after the pain has decreased and your flexibility has improved.

Non-weight-bearing activities, such as swimming or cycling, may be helpful depending on the seriousness of your injury. A sports medicine health professional or trainer can advise you about fitness activities.

Home treatment measures may also be helpful for:

  • Yeast infections that cause a fiery red rash with a scalloped border and sharply outlined edges in skin folds.
  • Jock itch, which is a fungus (ringworm) infection of the skin that may cause a rash and blisters.
  • Minor cuts or skin wounds with mild bleeding.
  • Minor rashes that are red and itchy. These may be caused by contact with a substance (contact dermatitis) such as poison ivy that causes an allergic reaction.