In most cases, a groin strain is caused by sudden strain during sport. It can have three different degrees of severity and affects the adductors. You can avoid a groin strain by intensively warming up and stretching the individual muscle groups and by slowly cooling down after exercising.
What is a groin strain?
Often, a sudden movement when jumping for a ball or over a hurdle is enough to cause a groin strain. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Groin Strain.
A groin strain is an overstretching or injury to the so-called adductors caused by a sudden sideways movement or straddling. Adductors in this case are skeletal muscles and tendons that serve to pull the legs in. Their opponents are called abductors. A groin strain is a relatively common sports injury.
It often affects soccer players, hurdlers, swimmers, skiers or ice hockey players. The sports mentioned are characterized by intensive footwork, which can result in a groin strain. Especially as a competitive athlete, one suffers a groin strain more often.
The severity of the groin strain can be one of three grades:
The mild adductor strain means an overstretching in which less than five percent of the adductor fibers are damaged. You can definitely continue to train with this groin strain, but you will feel pain. The second degree of severity of a groin strain means more than 5 percent muscle fiber tears, which can also be felt with lighter loads or pressure on the adductors.
Pronounced muscle fiber tears characterize the third degree of severity of the groin strain. Bruising, swelling and severe, stabbing pain can occur here. The healing process will take different amounts of time depending on the severity of the groin strain.
Overloading and sudden overstretching of the legs or abdominal muscles can lead to what is known as a groin strain. The pain occurs when exerting pressure on the inner thighs.
Often, a sudden movement when jumping for a ball or over a hurdle is enough to cause a groin strain. A groin strain is also favored by unsuitable footwear, incorrect jumping or running technique and a sudden sideways movement.
A congenital misalignment of the hips, a pelvic obliquity with different leg lengths or a malfunction of the hip joints can also be the cause of a groin strain.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A groin strain is usually caused by an unusual or excessive strain on the groin region. This leads to a strain in the muscles, so that the affected person suffers from shooting pains in the groin area. The pain often occurs immediately after exercise. In particularly severe cases, there is even visible swelling and hematoma, which can last for several days.
Affected people are very restricted in their everyday life, so that the quality of life suffers considerably. If the affected person decides to seek medical treatment, a quick and smooth recovery can be expected. Groin strains also become noticeable during certain movements, which can lead to severe tension. The muscles tense up, which can lead to long-lasting cramps in the groin region.
Groin strains are usually noticeable through stabbing pain and occur immediately after an unfamiliar activity. Severe swelling in the affected region is also possible, making medical treatment essential. Without any treatment, nerve inflammation or permanent damage is possible, so that a visit to the doctor should not be put off.
Course of the disease
The course of a groin strain can vary depending on the severity. In the case of the first degree of a groin strain, the pain is often only noticed after sport. It may be that the groin strain is announced by cramps or that pain occurs when the legs are rotated.
The pain associated with a slight adductor strain is load-dependent. Severe types of groin strains can cause visible bruising and swelling. If you press your legs sideways against a resistance, severe pain occurs. In the case of a severe groin strain, spreading the legs is also extremely painful.
In the case of a groin strain, patients primarily suffer from severe pain. This pain can be burning or stabbing, significantly reducing the patient’s quality of life and everyday life. It is not uncommon for the pain associated with a groin strain to also occur at night, leading to difficulty sleeping or irritability on the part of the patient.
Parts of the body can also be affected by swelling, which is not uncommon for bruising. The mobility of the affected person is also restricted. Due to the groin strain, various activities in everyday life can no longer be carried out easily. The disease sometimes leads to cramps and severe pain. The permanent pain can also lead to the development of depression and other mental illnesses in the patient.
A groin strain can be treated well in most cases. There are no particular complications. With the help of various therapies, the symptoms can usually be reduced. Life expectancy is not reduced by a groin strain. Only in rare cases are those affected dependent on a surgical intervention.
When should you go to the doctor?
If you feel stabbing pain in your groin after exercising, you may have a groin strain. A doctor’s visit is indicated if the symptoms increase or other symptoms such as swelling and bruising appear. Should tension or cramps occur, medical advice is also required. Although a groin strain heals on its own in many cases, the symptoms should always be clarified and, if necessary, treated.
When bruising, chronic pain, and other complications develop, family and friends need to take the person to a hospital. In the case of severe symptoms, a call to the emergency doctor is also advisable. Athletes and the elderly are particularly susceptible to groin strains and should consult a doctor at the first sign. The same applies to people with chronic muscle or bone diseases. Anyone who has been suffering from severe pain in the groin area for a long time is best advised to consult a sports medicine specialist. Other contacts are the orthopaedist, an internist and the physiotherapist.
Treatment & Therapy
If you suspect a groin strain, you should stop training, even if it is mild. It must be avoided that the groin strain is made worse by further overstretching.
Any further stretching of the ligaments in the hip joint intensifies the groin strain. The groin strain is first treated with ice packs to prevent swelling and hematoma formation. A groin strain can be relieved with compression bandages. This relieves the adductors. Elevating the legs relieves strained thigh muscles. The subsequent treatment of the groin strain can be carried out with heat treatments, lymphatic drainage, compression bandages or physiotherapy.
Magnesium supplements can support the healing process of a groin strain. In order to heal the groin strain, you should avoid any sporting activity until the healing process begins. Otherwise you risk a new groin strain. Then you can start with moderate weight training. As long as pain occurs under stress, the groin strain has not yet healed.
Outlook & Forecast
Basically, the prognosis for a groin strain is good. The healing phase depends on the severity of the strain. Patients with a mild strain are free of any symptoms within about two to four weeks if the doctor’s instructions for sufficient rest and avoidance of sporting activities during the treatment phase are followed. If the groin strain is more severe, a healing phase of three to six months must be expected. Afterwards, a regulated build-up of muscles is necessary for a good prognosis, in which the loads are continuously increased. This is the only way to avoid a relapse and consequential damage.
A power strain usually heals completely without complications or other disorders. The prognosis can be worse if the strain occurs in combination with other illnesses (e.g. after a fall or accident). The healing phase can be lengthened and movement can be impaired. Under certain circumstances, lifelong mobility restrictions can also occur in these cases. Physical resilience can also decrease as a result.
Groin strains that occur in competitive sports are often associated with a break of several months. In some cases, athletes are no longer able to practice their sport at all, which can lead to psychological and emotional problems. This can worsen the overall prognosis.
After recovering from a groin strain, it is important to adjust the movement sequences in such a way that the next groin strain does not occur immediately. Even worse would be a chronic groin strain, which can result from training too early and intensively.
Sufficient stretching exercises before physical exertion have proven effective as a preventive measure to avoid a groin strain. The muscles must be warmed up thoroughly before any sporting activity and especially before sporting competitions where you push your performance limits.
They must then be slowly cooled (cool down) and stretched again. Good shoes can help prevent a new groin strain if the foot is misaligned.
In practice, a groin strain is not a disease that requires follow-up care. This is mainly due to the fact that a slight to moderately severe groin strain heals completely. This results in freedom from complaints. Possible symptoms cannot arise from such an initial illness. Life-threatening consequences are also excluded.
The follow-up care can therefore not diagnose any possible neoplasms, such as those that occur in tumor diseases. The situation is different with a severe progressive form. Scars sometimes remain here, which encourage another groin strain. The reason for a repeated illness, however, are stresses that are known from top-class sport. To avoid complications, affected patients should avoid such or similar extreme situations.
In the case of a groin strain, aftercare is mainly carried out by imparting knowledge. Healthcare professionals educate patients about ways to avoid the risk of developing the disease. Stretching exercises and a thorough warm-up in particular reduce the risk of a groin strain. However, the actual implementation is the responsibility of the patient.
In a recurrence, physiotherapy, heat treatment and drainage promise to alleviate the symptoms. The doctor makes a diagnosis based on the movement restrictions described and the pain pattern. If follow-up examinations are necessary, imaging methods are suitable for documentation.
You can do that yourself
In the case of a groin strain, the groin must first be protected and cooled. It is best to put your legs up straight away. Cooling compresses and ice will help relieve pain and prevent bruising. In the case of a slight strain, these measures are often sufficient to ensure rapid healing.
A severe groin strain should definitely be treated by an orthopedist. The doctor will usually suggest further rest and cooling of the groin. Above all, sports that stress the adductors should be avoided. In order to maintain physical fitness, however, strength training can be carried out – of course under professional supervision. Physiotherapy and yoga also help to avoid a drop in performance without a major risk of injury. Changing sports shoes can also reduce the risk of another strain.
After recovery, the following applies: warm up well before exercising and incorporate a slow cool-down phase after exercise, in which the muscles are gradually relieved. In the case of particularly sensitive ligaments and muscles, it may also be advisable to wear compression or thermal pants.