Groin injuries include muscle injuries, direct trauma to the groin, inflammation and infection, and neurological problems. The majority involve strain to the muscles in the groin and will resolve with rest and the application of ice and heat as needed. In other cases, medical evaluation and treatment may be required to resolve the injury.
In the case of muscle injuries, muscles can be pulled or strained when people exercise without warming up, overextend their muscles, or experience wrenching injuries such as those associated with a loss of balance and a fall. The patient can experience immediate pain at the time of the injury. A dull, throbbing pain usually characterizes a muscle pull. For serious strains, the patient may have difficulty walking as a result of stiffness and swelling in the muscles. Resting is usually recommended to allow the muscle to recover, followed by gentle physical therapy to rebuild strength before resuming regular activities.
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A specific kind of muscle injury known as a hernia is also an issue that can be seen in the groin. In a true hernia, called an inguinal hernia, the muscles in the abdominal wall separate, allowing the contents to protrude and creating a distinctive bulge. Sports hernias, a variation, occur when the muscle wall thins, but does not pull apart. The patient experiences pain and discomfort, but the abdominal contents stay put.
Direct trauma to the groin is a common cause of groin injuries for athletes in contact sports, one reason athletes are advised to wear protective equipment. Accidental kicks are common, and sometimes athletes collide with other players or are hit unintentionally. This can cause severe pain in both men and women and may lead to future complications if muscles or nerves are torn. In some cases, trauma causes a laceration to the groin and stitches may be necessary to repair it. Groin injuries associated with trauma should be evaluated for internal bleeding.
Inflammation and infection including inflammation in the pelvis and hip joints can also be associated with a groin injury. The patient may experience a dull, generalized pain and think that a muscle has been pulled or strained. Finally, lower back problems can also lead to groin injuries. If the nerves in the lower back are pinched, this will create referred pain in other areas of the body, including the groin. The patient may experience numbness or tingling, and in some cases impaired sensation puts people at risk of additional groin injuries, as they do not recognize damage when it occurs and will continue to engage in physical activity after a muscle pull or strain.