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Pulled Groin Muscle Overview

by Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT February 14, 2021 0 Comments

A pulled groin muscle or strain 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 who partakes in physical activity can suffer from its painful symptoms. A pulled groin muscle 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 then dive deeper into our guide for more on recovery.

What is a Groin Pull?

A groin strain develops when the adductor muscles along the inner 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.

  • Grade 1

    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 muscle fibers.

  • Grade 2

    A grade 2 pulled muscle groin is a moderate tear in which 25% to 90% of fibers are damaged. Symptoms include sharp pain and typically develop over the days after the injury, but they may not be visible.

  • Grade 3

    A grade 3 groin strain is the most serious and involves either a complete or nearly complete rupture (90% or more) of the muscle. Symptoms include severe pain and become apparent within 24 to 48 hours after the injury.

Groin Strain 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 injury that can eventually progress to a stress fracture. Repetitive 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. These again include jumping, pivoting and other sudden changes in direction. 

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, overactive hip flexors, poor warmups, lower back problems, previous injury, and other biomechanical factors.

Pulled Groin Muscle Symptoms

Symptoms of a pulled groin include:

  • tightening of the inner thigh muscles
  • loss of flexibility
  • swelling
  • weakness
  • stabbing pain
  • 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 or physical therapist immediately. Understanding how to treat a pulled groin and getting effective treatment begins by knowing the symptoms 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 muscle strain injury or 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 primary physician, physical therapist or sports medicine doctor will be the best healthcare professionals for medical advice and customized physical exam based on personal history. 

Resisted Muscle Test

A resisted muscle test is the simple gold standard for diagnosing a groin pull. To fully test the muscle injury, your doctor will apply resistance as you take your injured leg through a range of motion test. Once groin pain is reproduced, your doctor can locate the type of muscle injury and location.

X-Ray

An X-ray produces clear images of the bones, which can be useful for ruling out stress fractures.

MRI Scan

An MRI scan isn’t often required to confirm the signs of a pulled groin. An order is more likely if the condition is a recurrent groin injury, which may require a slightly different treatment approach.

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 with physical therapy, proper rest, stretching, strengthening exercises, and other home treatment options.

How to Treat a Groin Strain

Groin Pull Care & Prevention

With the use of conservative treatment options like pain medications, ice therapy, groin support, and a comprehensive program of exercises, healing a pulled groin won’t be costly or stressful. It can also help to be aware of risk factors for a groin pull related to your activity level and training volume to prevent re-injury. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor or physical therapist to maximize your recovery and results.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/groin-pull#1-3

https://www.livestrong.com/article/368488-yoga-stretches-for-a-pulled-groin/

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Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT
Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT

JayDee Vykoukal is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, owner of the healthy habit platform Health Means Wealth, and freelance medical writer. She loves traveling and spending time with her family in nature. Her passion is helping others continue to participate in the activities they love through education and proper exercise.



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