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Coliseum Medical Centers
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Coliseum Northside Hospital
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Groin Strain

Definition

A groin strain is a partial or complete tear of the small fibers of the adductor muscles. The adductors are a group of muscles located on the inner side of the thigh. They start in the groin area and run down the inner thigh to attach to the inner side of the knee.

Muscles of the Groin
Groin muscle
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

A groin strain can be caused by:

  • Stretching the adductor muscles beyond the amount of tension they can withstand
  • Suddenly putting stress on the adductor muscles when they are not ready for stress
  • Overusing the adductor muscles over time
  • Getting a direct blow to the adductor muscles

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of developing a groin strain include:

  • Participation in sports that require bursts of speed. This includes track sports like running, hurdles, or long jump. Other sports include basketball, soccer, football, or rugby.
  • Previous strain or injury to the area
  • Muscle fatigue or weakness
  • Tight groin muscles
  • Poor conditioning
  • Imbalance of musculature
  • Abnormality of bone structure

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the groin area
  • Stiffness in the groin area
  • Weakness of the adductor muscles
  • Bruising in the groin area if blood vessels are broken
  • Popping or snapping sensation as the muscle tears

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Most groin strains can be diagnosed with a physical exam. Images may be needed if severe damage is suspected. Images may be taken with MRI scan .

Muscle strains are graded according to their severity:

  • Grade 1—Some stretching with micro-tearing of muscle fibers
  • Grade 2—Partial tearing of muscle fibers
  • Grade 3—Complete tearing of muscle fibers; this may also be called a rupture or avulsion

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include:

Supportive Care

Your muscles will need time to heal. RICE is often the main part of treatment:

  • Rest—Activities will need to be restricted at first. Normal activities will be reintroduced gradually.
  • Ice—Ice therapy may help relieve swelling. Heat or cold may be advised throughout recovery if they provide benefits.
  • Compression—Used for a limited time, compression bandages can provide gentle pressure to help move fluids out of the area.
  • Elevation—Keeping the area elevated can help fluids drain out or prevent fluids from building up.

Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be advised to reduce pain.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of getting a groin strain, take the following steps:

  • Keep your adductor muscles strong to absorb the energy of sudden physical stress.
  • Learn the proper technique for exercises and sports.
  • Warm up your muscles slowly and stretch them properly.

Revision Information

  • American Council on Exercise

    http://www.acefitness.org

  • Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians

    http://www.familydoctor.org

  • Health Canada

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

  • Healthy U

    http://www.healthyalberta.com

  • Muscle strains in the thigh. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00366. Updated March 2014. Accessed March 10, 2015.

  • Sports-related groin pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 14, 2014. Accessed March 10, 2015.

  • O'Kane JW. Anterior hip pain. Am Fam Physician. 1999;60:1687-1696.

  • 1/4/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.