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Groin Pull

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A groin pull -- or groin strain -- results from putting too much stress on muscles in your groin and thigh. If these muscles are tensed too forcefully or too suddenly, they can get over-stretched or torn.

Groin pulls are common in people who play sports that require a lot of running and jumping. In particular, suddenly jumping or changing direction is a likely cause. Groin pulls often appear in people who play soccer and football, and they make up about 10% of all injuries in professional hockey players.

soccer player kicking ball

What Does a Groin Pull Feel Like?

Here are some symptoms of a groin pull:

  • Pain and tenderness in the groin and the inside of the thigh
  • Pain when you bring your legs together
  • Pain when you raise your knee
  • A popping or snapping feeling during the injury, followed by severe pain

Groin pulls are often divided into three degrees of severity:

  • 1st degree: Mild pain, but little loss of strength or movement
  • 2nd degree: Moderate pain, mild to moderate strength loss and some tissue damage
  • 3rd degree: Severe pain, severe loss of strength and function due to a complete tear of the muscle

To diagnose a groin pull, your doctor will give you a thorough physical exam. Tests like X-rays and MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) may be needed to rule out other problems.

What's the Treatment for a Groin Pull?

Happily, a groin pull will usually heal on its own. You just need to give it some time and rest. To speed the healing, you can:

  • Ice the inside of your thigh to reduce pain and swelling. Experts recommend doing it for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days, or until the pain is gone.
  • Compress your thigh using an elastic bandage or tape.
  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Advil, Aleve, or Motrin, will help with pain and swelling. However, studies show their effects are controversial especially if taken long term.  Additionally, these drugs can have side effects; they should be used only occasionally, unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.
  • To assist tissue healing, your medical provider will guide you in active stretching and strengthening exercises.  Depending on grade of injury, this can start immediately or may require several days of rest.  Pain is used as a guide.  Too aggressive and further damage may occur.  

Most of the time, these conservative treatments will do the trick. But not always. If these techniques still don't help, you may want to think about surgery. While surgery may give you relief, it's a last resort. Not everyone can return to their previous level of activity afterward.

So, talk over the pros and cons of surgery with your doctor. You should also consider getting a second opinion.

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