The groin area is the area where the upper thigh meets the lower abdomen. Pain in the groin area arises from conditions affecting a variety of organs, including musculoskeletal pain or pain related to the male reproductive organs. Groin pain can be acute (sudden in onset), or the pain can persist over time (chronic), depending on the specific cause. As with any pain, the characteristics of groin pain -- its precise location, timing, duration, etc. -- are important to determine the cause. Groin pain can arise due to trauma or injury, tumors, infections, hernias, or other conditions. Pain in the groin can also originate in areas other than the groin, such as the leg. This is known as radiating or referred pain. For example, injury to the muscles or tendons in the leg can cause radiating pain to the groin area.
Muscle strains, bursitis, fractures, and hernias are some common causes of groin pain. In males, inflammation of the testicles or other conditions affecting the testicles and scrotum can cause groin pain.
Other causes of groin pain
- Avulsion Fracture
- Bacterial Infection
- Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
- Hip Fracture
- Inguinal Hernia
- Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
- Osteitis Pubis
- Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis
- Stress Fracture
- Testicular Torsion
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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Causes of Groin Pain
Direct vs. Indirect Hernia
Direct and indirect hernia are both inguinal hernias. Both types of hernias may cause a visible bulge in the groin area. Weakness in the muscle of the abdominal wall causes a direct hernia. A birth defect causes an indirect hernia. Hernias that can't be pushed in need surgery.
Ectopic Pregnancy (Tubal Pregnancy)
An ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy located outside the inner lining of the uterus. The majority of ectopic pregnancies occur in the Fallopian tube. Signs and symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy may include abdominal pain, lack of menstrual period (amenorrhea), vaginal bleeding, fainting, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Treatment options for an ectopic pregnancy include observation, medication, or surgery.
Hydrocele is a collection of clear fluid in a thin walled sack that also contains the testicle. Hydroceles are more common in males than females. There are two types of hydroceles: 1) communicating and 2)non-communicating. Hydroceles present at birth may resolve on their own. Hydroceles that appear in the teen or adult years may require surgery.
Kidney Stones (nephrolithiasis)
Kidney stones are solid masses of crystalline material that form in the kidneys. Symptoms of kidney stones can include pain, nausea, vomiting, and even fever and chills. Kidney stones are diagnosed via CT scans and specialized X-rays. Treatment of kidney stones involves drinking lots of fluids and taking over-the-counter pain medications to medical intervention including prescription medications, lithotripsy, and sometimes even surgery.
Mumps is an acute viral illness caused by the mumps virus. Symptoms of mumps include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, followed by swelling of the salivary glands.
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also known as degenerative arthritis. Osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease. The 16 characteristic early RA signs and symptoms include the following. Anemia Both sides of the body affected (symmetric) Depression Fatigue Fever Joint deformity Joint pain Joint redness Joint stiffness Joint swelling Joint tenderness Joint warmth Limping Loss of joint function Loss of joint range of motion Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
Sciatica pain, caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve, typically radiates from the low back to behind the thigh to below the knee. Disc herniation is usually the cause of sciatica. Medication to alleviate pain, physical therapy, and bed rest are treatments for sciatica.
Septic arthritis, or infectious arthritis, is infection of one or more joints by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Symptoms and signs of septic arthritis include fever, joint pain, chills, swelling, redness, warmth, and stiffness. Treatment involves antibiotics and the drainage of the infected joint.
Sprains and Strains
An injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be caused by repetitive movements or a single stressful incident. Symptoms and signs include pain and swelling. Though treatment depends upon the extent and location of the injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are key elements of treatment.
STDs in Men
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted during sexual contact. They may be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. STDs in men cause no symptoms or symptoms like genital burning, itching, sores, rashes, or discharge. Common infections that are sexually transmitted in men include gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis C and B, genital warts, human papillomavirus (HPV), and genital herpes. Some STDs in men are treatable while others are not. STDs are diagnosed with tests that identify proteins or genetic material of the organisms causing the infection. The prognosis of an STD depends on whether the infection is treatable or not. Use of latex condoms can help reduce the risk of contracting an STD but it does not eliminate the risk entirely.
Testicular cancer symptoms include a painless lump or swelling in a testicle, testicle or scrotum pain, a dull ache in the abdomen, back, or groin, and a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum. Treatment for cancer of the testicles depends on the type of cancer (seminoma or nonseminoma), the stage of the cancer, and the patient's age and health.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection of the bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra. E. coli, a type of bacteria that lives in the bowel and near the anus, causes most UTIs. UTI symptoms include pain, abdominal pain, mild fever, urinary urgency and frequency. Treatment involves a course of antibiotics.
Examples of Medications for Groin Pain
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