Your health: Coping with groin pain and injuries

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You may have had a minor groin problem at one time or another. Most of the time our body movements do not cause problems. It’s not surprising that symptoms may develop 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 commonly 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 accidents.

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 is needed to relieve symptoms and heal.

Groin injury

An acute injury may occur from a direct blow, a stabbing injury, 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 while lifting, pushing, or pulling heavy objects. You might pull a groin muscle when you fall. A sudden pulling or tearing of a groin muscle may cause sudden pain. A snapping sound may be heard with hip or leg movement. Swelling and bruising can happen quickly. Sometimes swelling and bruising do not show up 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, which 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.
  • 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 commonly affects teenage athletes who are involved in jumping, kicking, sprinting, or hurdling sports.