What is a groin strain?
A strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon. People commonly call such an injury a "pulled" muscle. The muscles in your groin help bring your legs together. There are two muscles that may commonly get injured in a groin strain: the adductor magnus (the large muscle running down the inner side of the thigh) and the sartorius (a thinner muscle that starts on the outside of your hip, crosses your thigh and attaches near the inside of the knee).
What is the cause?
A groin strain most commonly occurs when you are running or jumping or when there is a forced push-off or cut.
What are the symptoms?
You will have pain or tenderness along the inner side of your thigh or in the groin area. You will have pain when you bring your legs together. You may have pain when lifting your knee up.
How is it diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will take note of your symptoms and will examine your thigh and hip.
How is it treated?
While you are recovering from your injury:
- Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a cloth on the area every 3 to 4 hours, for up to 20 minutes at a time.
- You could also do ice massage. To do this, first freeze water in a Styrofoam cup, then peel the top of the cup away to expose the ice. Hold the bottom of the cup and rub the ice over the area for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this several times a day while you have pain.
- Take an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.
- Wear a supportive bandage called a thigh wrap or tape your thigh or groin.
- Follow your provider’s instructions for doing exercises to help you recover.
- After you recover from your acute injury, use moist heat for 10 to 15 minutes at a time before you do warm-up and stretching exercises. Do not use heat if you have swelling.
- Change your sport or activity to one that does not make your condition worse. For example, you may need to swim instead of run.
How long will the effects last?
The length of recovery depends on many factors such as your age, health, and if you have had a previous groin injury. Recovery time also depends on the severity of the injury. A mild groin strain may recover within a few weeks, whereas a severe injury may take 6 weeks or longer to recover. You need to stop doing the activities that cause pain until the groin has healed. If you continue doing activities that cause pain, your symptoms will return and it will take longer to recover.
When can I return to my normal activities?
Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate. Return to your activities depends on how soon your groin recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury has occurred. In general, the longer you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take to get better. The goal is to return you to your normal activities as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury.
You may safely return to your activities when, starting from the top of the list and progressing to the end, each of the following is true:
- You have full range of motion in the injured leg compared to the uninjured leg.
- You have full strength of the injured leg compared to the uninjured leg.
- You can walk straight ahead without pain or limping.
How can I help prevent a groin strain?
A groin strain is best prevented by warming up properly and doing groin muscle stretching exercises prior to your activities. This is especially important in activities such as sprinting or jumping.
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Published by RelayHealth.
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