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You may have had a minor groin problem at one time or another. Most of the time our body movements do not cause problems. It's not surprising that symptoms may develop from everyday wear and tear, overuse, or an injury.
The groin areas are located on each side of the body in the folds where the belly joins the legs. The pubic area lies between the two groin areas.
Groin injuries most commonly occur during:
Groin problems and injuries can cause pain and concern. Most minor problems or injuries will heal on their own. Home treatment is usually all that is needed to relieve symptoms and heal.
An acute injury may occur from a direct blow, a stabbing injury, a fall, or from the leg being turned in an abnormal position.
You can pull (strain) or tear a groin muscle during exercise, such as running, skating, kicking in soccer, or playing basketball. You can strain a groin muscle while lifting, pushing, or pulling heavy objects. You might pull a groin muscle when you fall. A sudden pulling or tearing of a groin muscle may cause sudden pain. A snapping sound may be heard with hip or leg movement. Swelling and bruising can happen quickly. Sometimes swelling and bruising do not show up for a few days after the injury.
Overuse injuries occur when too much stress is placed on an area. This often happens when you overdo an activity or repeat the same activity day after day. Overuse can lead to muscle strains or tears or may cause swelling. Overuse may cause:
Groin pain not caused by an injury to the groin may be coming from other parts of the body. This is called radiating, or referred, pain. Pulled muscles, ligaments, or tendons in the leg may cause symptoms in the groin. It is important to look for other causes of groin pain when you have not had an injury.
An inguinal hernia is a bulge of soft tissue through a weak spot in the abdominal wall in the groin area.See a picture of an inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia may need surgical treatment. A sports hernia may affect the same area of the groin in competitive athletes.
Infections may cause a lump, bumps, or swelling in the groin area. Glands (lymph nodes) in the groin may become enlarged and painful when there is an infection in the groin area. If the infection is minor, the swelling may last a few days and go away on its own.
Rashes in the groin area have many causes, such as ringworm or yeast. Most rashes can be treated at home.
When a child develops groin pain, the pain may be caused by a problem with the upper part of the thighbone (head of the femur) or the hip. Common causes of groin pain, knee pain (referred pain from the hip), or limping include:
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Pain in adults and older children
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
Symptoms of infection may include:
Urinary symptoms may include:
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 noninjury 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.
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.
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Home treatment measures may also be helpful for:
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
The following tips may help you prevent a groin injury or other problems in the groin area.
Steps to prevent a groin injury or strain may include the following:
You can take measures to reduce your risk of becoming infected with a sexually transmitted infection (STI). You can also reduce the risk of transmitting an STI to your sex partner. Know high-risk behaviors and the symptoms of STIs, and do not have sex with anyone who has these symptoms.
Condom use may reduce the risk of becoming infected with an STI. Condoms must be put on before beginning any sexual contact. Use condoms with a new partner.
Try the following things to prevent jock itch (fungal infection of the skin in the groin) or yeast infection (cutaneous candidiasis):
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions.
If you have a rash, do not have sexual contact or activity until you are seen by your doctor. This will reduce the risk of transmitting a possible infection to your sex partner. If you do have an STI, your sex partner or partners may need to be evaluated and treated also.
Current as of: June 4, 2014
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
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