How Do You Treat a Groin Strain? Symptoms & Causes

Medically Reviewed on 11/3/2021
how do you treat a groin strain
A groin train may be treated with painkillers to manage symptoms and physical therapy to regain muscle strength. Surgery may be required in severe cases

A groin strain usually doesn’t require medical intervention. Symptoms of pain and swelling can be managed with painkillers, and thigh strengthening exercises may help speed up the recovery process. Groin strains may take weeks or months to heal depending on the severity of the injury. 

Conservative therapy

Groin strains may be treated symptomatically with the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines and painkillers: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can help reduce pain and other symptoms related to inflammation, such as swelling and bruising.
  • Ice or cold packs: Ice packs may be applied to the injured area multiple times a day, each compression for 10-20 minutes. This helps with blood clotting and reduces increased temperature at the site of injury, relieving pain and swelling and potentially controlling the extent of the bruising
  • Stabilization: Minimizing mobility helps the muscle heal.
  • Bandages: The injured thigh may be tied tightly with bandages. Wearing tight pants can also support the muscles and groin during the healing process.

Exercises

After some time, the muscles should be stretched with physical therapy. This can help improve range of motion, regain muscle strength, and promote faster healing. Without movement, the muscles and tendons may become stiff, increasing the risk of further injury.

Surgery

Surgery may be done in very rare cases where there is a complete tear of the muscles or tendons, which cannot heal with other treatments.

What are the symptoms of groin strain?

Depending on the nature and degree of the injury, symptoms may include:

  • Sharp pain and tenderness in the groin or inside of the thigh
  • Swelling and bruising in the area
  • Muscle weakness or tightness
  • Spasms in the inner thigh
  • Warmth in the groin or inner thigh region
  • Limping or difficulty walking
  • Pain with running
  • Pain with sudden movement
  • Severe pain with slight movement such as bringing the legs together or raising the knee (in severe cases)

The intensity of pain ranges from a dull ache to severe pain, which may worsen with movement.

What causes groin strain?

A groin strain is typically caused by an injury or a tear to the adductor muscles, a group of five muscles that help move the legs. This usually occurs due to overexertion of thigh muscles, forceful overstretching, or sudden change in the direction of muscle movement. 

The range of pain, discomfort, swelling, and limitation of movements depend on the extent of the injury (partial or complete injury). Groin strains are categorized into three different degrees based on the extent of the injury:

  • First degree: There is minimal injury to the muscles, which causes pain in the area but no loss of muscle strength in the upper thigh. The patient may not experience pain while walking but may experience pain with activities that exert force on the thighs, such as running, stretching, jumping, and kicking.
  • Second degree: There may be significant damage to the muscles, pain, and some loss of muscle strength in the upper thigh. The patient may feel pain and difficulty walking and may not be able to bring both thighs together.
  • Third degree: The muscle is completely torn, leading to severe pain even with slight movement. There is a severe loss of muscle strength in the upper thigh. Generally, there may be significant swelling and bruising around the injured area, and a gap in the muscle may be felt when touched.

Who is most likely to suffer from groin strain?

Groin strain is most commonly associated with:

  • Sports, especially soccer and hockey
  • Running 
  • Jumping
  • Weight lifting
  • Dancing
  • Car accidents

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Medically Reviewed on 11/3/2021
References
Image Source: Panuwat Dangsungnoen / Getty Images

Temple Health. Groin Pull. https://www.templehealth.org/services/conditions/groin-pull

PeaceHealth. Groin Problems and Injuries. https://www.peacehealth.org/medical-topics/id/groin

Sportsinjuryclinic.net. Groin Strain. https://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/sport-injuries/hip-groin/groin-pain/groin-stra