A groin pull can be frustrating, as it can hinder mobility, affect daily activities, and take a long time to heal. The injury is common to athletes, but anyone can suffer from its harmful effects. A pulled groin can happen after a fall, during exercise, or seemingly out of nowhere. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to prevent a groin pull and to recover from the injury.
A pulled groin develops when the adductor muscles along the inner portion of your thighs are partially injured or completely torn. Most often, the muscles are overstretched during activities such as jumping, running, or changing direction. Even though a pulled muscle in the groin is a common injury among athletes, it can happen to anybody with an active lifestyle.
Pulled Groin Severity
A pulled muscle in the groin area is classified into three grades depending on severity. Understanding the grading system can help you decide whether your injury requires immediate attention.
A patient who has sustained a grade 1 groin muscle pull experiences mild discomfort. It is a minor tear that involves damage to fewer than 25% of fibers.
A grade 2 pulled muscle groin is a moderate tear in which 25% to 90% of fibers are damaged. Symptoms typically develop over the days after the injury, but they may not be visible.
A grade 3 groin pull is the most serious and involves either a complete or nearly complete rupture (90% or more) of the muscle. Symptoms become apparent within 24 to 48 hours after the injury.
Groin Pull Causes
The common causes of a pulled groin muscle include:
Repetitive stress. Several bony structures in the groin, hip, upper leg, and pelvis are prone to overuse stress fractures. Sprinting, landing after a jump, and running uphill could all trigger a groin pull.
Short, intense training sessions. A pulled groin may develop quickly because of intense training over a short period of time, or from progressing to high-intensity exercise too quickly.
Not resting after an acute groin injury. If you continue strenuous activity when you feel groin pain, your acute groin injury may become chronic.
Although pulling your groin can happen gradually or very suddenly, there are factors that can make individuals more or less likely to sustain a groin injury. These include weak adductor muscles, poor warmups, lower back problems, previous injury, and biomechanical factors.
Pulled Groin Symptoms
Symptoms of a pulled groin involve tightening of the muscles, swelling, weakness, and a stabbing pain, but a pulled groin may also cause a snapping or popping feeling and tenderness on the inside of the thigh. It may hurt to stand, sit, or walk. In severe cases of pulled groin, bruising, urinary problems, loss of upper leg strength and function, and a gap or lump in the adductor muscles may occur.
If you are experiencing some or all of the groin pull symptoms, consult your doctor immediately. Understanding how to treat a pulled groin and getting effective treatment begin by knowing what warning signs to look for.
Groin Pull Diagnosis
To properly heal a pulled groin, it is important to accurately diagnose the source of your symptoms. Your doctor will determine whether you are dealing with a musculoskeletal condition and not something more serious, such as a pathological condition.
Medical History and Physical Examination
A complete medical history is the first and most important part of the diagnostic process. Your doctor will customize the physical exam based on the findings from your history.
Resisted Muscle Test
A resisted muscle test is the gold standard for diagnosing a groin pull. To fully test the muscle, the doctor will apply resistance as you take your injured leg through a range of movement. Once pain is reproduced, your doctor will recognize the type and exact location of the injury.
An X-ray produces clear and detailed pictures of pulled groin muscles, which are useful for identifying the extent and location of the injury.
An MRI scan is often required to confirm the signs of a pulled groin, especially if the condition is a recurrent groin injury, which takes much longer to assess and treat.
Pulled Groin Treatment
Deciding how to treat a pulled groin depends on a few factors. When treating a groin pull, you will focus on addressing immediate pain and dealing with the underlying cause. Here are available treatments for a pulled groin muscle.
The RICE method is a safe and effective way of treating a pulled groin at home. Follow the RICE method within the first 24 hours after your injury, but be sure to see your doctor if the symptoms do not resolve themselves immediately.
Rest allows the injured muscles to repair themselves. Stop any activity that results in pain or discomfort.
Ice therapy eases pain, reduces swelling, and encourages healing. Apply an ice pack to the inside of your thigh for 20 minutes every three to four hours.
Compress your thigh using tape or an elastic bandage. Compression reduces swelling and improves circulation.
Elevate your groin area by placing a pillow or rolled towel under your hips and upper leg while you rest and ice. Elevating the area minimizes swelling.
Another remedy for a pulled groin is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which help with pain and inflammation. Always discuss any new medications with your doctor, and avoid long-term use, as NSAIDs can have complications.
Sports massage is an effective pulled groin remedy. Begin a massage routine four days after your injury. Massage helps the muscles heal so you recover faster. Use massage rollers for an easy at-home massage.
A groin support relieves pain and improves circulation to help you recover quickly without further injuring the area. ( See Product)
Like other types of soft tissue injuries, groin pulls benefit from bracing. Use a groin support to relieve pain, support the hip flexor, and increase circulation to the thigh area. Look for a versatile brace that features adjustable compression to prevent re-injury.
Stretching and strengthening exercises for a pulled groin ensure quick tissue healing and a healthy recovery. Speak to your doctor or physical therapist before trying any new exercise program.
Here are a few tips on how to stretch a pulled groin. Start with the following expert-approved static stretches for a pulled groin. When you can perform the gentle exercises without pain and discomfort, move on to dynamic exercises.
Swinging Leg Stretch
Step 1: Stand close to a chair, wall, or table for balance.
Step 2: Slowly swing your right foot to the right, as far as possible. Don’t force your leg to go too high, which can stress the muscles in the groin and hip. Gently swing the leg to the opposite side.
Step 3: Switch sides and repeat.
Step 4: Swing each leg for at least 10 repetitions.
Hip Flexors Stretch
Step 1: Slowly kneel on a carpeted floor or a yoga mat.
Step 2: Put your right leg forward until your right thigh is parallel to the floor.
Step 3: Gently lean your body forward to stretch your adductor muscles.
Step 4: Hold the position for 30 seconds. Switch sides, then repeat.
Step 5: Perform 5 repetitions per day.
Seated Short Groin Stretch
Step 1: Sit on the floor, then slowly bend your knees, with the soles of your feet together.
Step 2: Use your elbows to slowly push your knees down to the floor until you feel a stretch in your inner thigh.
Step 3: Hold the position for 6 seconds.
Step 4: Perform 10 to 12 repetitions daily.
Complement your stretching exercises for a groin pull with movements to strengthen the muscles in your groin area.
Straight-Leg Adductor Exercise
Step 1: Lie on the floor and extend your legs.
Step 2: Put a small medicine ball between your ankles and squeeze for 5-second intervals.
Step 3: Repeat 10 times. Increase the number of repetitions and duration as your strength improves.
Standing Leg Adduction with a Resistance Band
Step 1: Secure a resistance band on the leg of a chair, then wrap the other end around your leg.
Step 2: Holding the chair for stability, gently raise your leg sideways at a 45-degree angle, then lower it. Keep your head straight, back straight, stomach tight, and chest up.
Step 3: Perform 10 repetitions on each side.
Bent-Knee Adductor Exercise
Step 1: Lie on the floor. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the ground.
Step 2: Place a medicine ball, a golf ball, or a football between your knees and squeeze for 5-second intervals. You should feel the pressure on your inner thighs.
Step 3: Perform 10 repetitions.
In most cases, conservative treatments will heal your groin pull. If the above methods do not help, your doctor may recommend surgical repair. After the procedure, you’ll need plenty of rehab for your groin pull to regain flexibility and strength. Discuss the pros and cons of surgery with your doctor.
Pulled Groin Recovery Time
The time to complete recovery from a pulled groin depends on the severity of the injury. It typically takes four to six weeks to regain full flexibility. In the meantime, focus on caring for your pulled groin muscle.
Groin Pull Care and Prevention
With the benefits of pain medications, ice therapy, groin support, and a comprehensive program of exercises, healing a pulled groin won’t be costly or stressful. Educate yourself about the risk factors so you can avoid re-injury, and discuss any questions with your doctor.
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