What is groin problems and injuries?

Groin Problems and Injuries
Jump to

Groin problems and injuries: Overview

You may have had a minor groin problem at one time or another. Most of the time, our body movements don't cause problems. But sometimes symptoms may occur 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 often occur during:

  • Sports or recreational activities, such as ice hockey, cross-country skiing, basketball, and soccer.
  • Work-related activities.
  • Work or projects around the home.
  • Motor vehicle crashes.

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's needed to relieve symptoms and heal.

Groin injury

An acute groin injury may occur from a direct blow, a stabbing injury, or 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 when you lift, push, or pull heavy objects. You might pull a groin muscle when you fall. A sudden pulling or tearing of a groin muscle may cause sudden pain. You may hear a snapping sound when you move your hip or leg. Swelling and bruising can happen quickly. But sometimes they don't appear 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:

  • A hairline crack in a bone (stress fracture).
  • Bursitis.
  • Osteitis pubis. This is a condition that causes chronic groin pain because of stress on the pubis symphysis. Distance runners and soccer players are most likely to be affected.
  • Hip problems. Examples include a muscle strain in the groin or buttock.
  • Avulsion fractures. This occurs when force causes a tendon or ligament to tear away from a bone and break off a piece of bone. It most often affects teen athletes who are involved in jumping, kicking, sprinting, or hurdling sports.

Other causes of groin problems

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's important to look for other causes of groin pain when you haven't had an injury.

An inguinal hernia is a bulge of soft tissue through a weak spot in the abdominal wall in the groin area. It 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 be enlarged and painful when there's 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 (cutaneous candidiasis). Most rashes can be treated at home.

Causes of groin pain in children

When a child has 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:

  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. It affects the blood supply and proper placement of the head of the femur in the hip socket.
  • Slipped capital femoral epiphysis. It occurs when the femur slips at the growth plate (physis) and doesn't fit in the hip socket correctly.
  • Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). It's caused by abnormal development of the hip joint. The femur may fit loosely into the hip socket (subluxation). Or it may be completely out of the hip socket.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the lining of the joint space of the hip (toxic synovitis).
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis. This disease causes inflamed, swollen, stiff, and often painful joints.
  • Infectious arthritis (septic arthritis). It's caused by a bacterial or fungal infection inside the hip joint.

How do you care for yourself when you have a minor groin problem or injury?

Home treatment can help relieve pain, swelling, and bruising. It can also help you heal after a minor groin injury.

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. Don't do intense activities while you still have pain. A pulled muscle (strain) in the groin can take several weeks to heal.
Put ice or a cold pack on the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake). 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, you can apply warmth to the area that hurts.
While you recover 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.

If you think you may have a more severe injury, you may need to be checked by your doctor.

Stretching and strengthening exercises

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 start 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 your pain gets worse, slow down or stop the exercises.

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

Non–weight-bearing activities, such as swimming or cycling, may be helpful. It depends on how serious your injury is. A sports medicine health professional or trainer can advise you about fitness activities.

Other groin area problems

Rashes and injuries may also occur in the groin area.

  • Rashes, such as those that occur with yeast infections or jock itch, are often treated with creams or ointments.
  • Cuts are rinsed and cleaned. If a cut is large or painful, you may need to see a doctor.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.