The “groin” is the term given to the area of the body where the lower abdomen meets the upper thigh.
It is made up of layers of soft tissue structures including muscles, tendons and ligaments which overlie the hip joint.
Groin pain is common and often arises from these soft tissues. This type of pain can come on spontaneously, without any obvious cause or you may be able to put it down to a specific event or activity when you felt a pain or “pull”.
Groin pain often happens in those who play sport or undertake other strenuous activities. The pain may happen right away, or it could come on later and gradually increase with time.
In most cases, simple changes to your activities and simple exercises, as your pain allows, can help you recover.
When to see your doctor
There are some instances, however, when the best course of action is to seek a medical opinion about your groin pain.
It is recommended to see a doctor urgently if you have any of the following:
- Significant injury or trauma to the hip or groin area
- Severe pain levels
- Sudden swelling or bruising
- An inability to put weight on the affected leg
- Any altered sensation or weakness in the leg
- Testicular pain
- A swelling or lump around or in your testicle
- Swelling or bulging in the groin area – especially if red/hot/tender
- Your groin symptoms are made worse by coughing or sneezing
- Symptoms are present on both sides
- Groin pain that radiates to your back, abdomen, or chest
- Groin pain along with fever and nausea.
- Pain in your side that moves into your groin and testicle.
- There’s blood in your urine.
What are the common causes of groin pain?
Different structures in your groin area may be contributing to your symptoms.
The most common causes of groin pain are divided into the regions listed here:
Adductor related groin pain – pain caused by the group of muscles in the inside of the thigh.
Iliopsoas related groin pain – pain caused by the group of muscles known as the “hip flexors” at the front of the lower abdomen/upper thigh area.
Inguinal related groin pain – pain caused by the soft tissue structures underneath the “groin crease” where the abdominal muscles join to the pelvis and upper thigh.
Pubic related groin pain – pain caused by the joint between your pubic bones at the front and centre of the pelvis (this is called the pubic symphysis).
Hip related groin pain – groin pain caused by the hip joint and it’s associated structures
In some cases your lower back or sacroiliac joints (where the the sacrum connects to your pelvis) can contribute to groin pain.
Other causes of groin pain
Sometimes groin pain can be related to other structures, such as bones, bowels, kidneys, bladder, testicles, ovaries or the uterus.
Another potential cause of groin pain is a true hernia. This is when the abdominal contents (commonly the bowel) protrudes through a defect in the muscles of the lower abdomen and you can feel an associated lump in the same area when you cough or sneeze.
If you think any of these maybe causing your groin pain, we advise you to see your GP.
Initial management of groin pain
When your groin pain starts it is sensible to try and take 48 hours of relative rest and avoidance of aggravating activities. However, you are advised to keep moving during this time and you can walk around and conduct general activity as your pain allows.
Over the counter pain relief may be beneficial. Check with your Pharmacist or GP if you are unsure whether over the counter pain relief is suitable for you.
After 48 hours of relative rest you should try and get back to your normal activities but continue to avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting.
As described above different structures in your groin area may be contributing to your symptoms.
Even though there are several potential sources of your groin pain basic principles of management and treatment, however, are similar across these several causes and applying these principles to manage your groin pain is the simple first step to recovery.
Watch the videos at the bottom of this page for advice on exercises that can help with groin pain.
How long will my recovery take?
Timescales for recovery after the onset of groin pain vary with the severity and exact nature of the problem. Full recovery can take up to 3 months, but overall you should see some improvement in this time.
If your groin pain is not improving within these timescales then discuss this with your GP.
Posterior pelvic tilt
Side lying exercises