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Groin strain 

Causes and treatment of groin strain 

The groin is where the inner thigh connects with the lower abdomen; it is otherwise known medically as the inguinal region. A groin strain (鼠蹊部拉傷) is common in sports that require a lot of running, jumping and kicking, such as football, rugby, and professional hockey. Players often need to jump or change direction suddenly, putting excessive pressure on the groin and thigh muscles, causing muscle tears through a forceful contraction. Depending on the severity of a groin strain, the recovery time ranges from a few weeks to a few months. 


Causes of groin strains   

  • Quick sprints and stops or sudden splitting movements 
  • Sudden jump or change of direction 
  • Lack of adequate warm-up and frequent leg lifting  
  • Keeping the knees higher than the hip bones for a long time 
  • Office workers leaning too forward when sitting at their desks 
  • History of previous groin injury 


Types of groin strains 

Groin strains can be divided into 3 levels: 

>Level 1: The muscle is overstretched, and there is slight pain when exerting force on the inner thigh. There is minimal loss of strength and minimal restriction of motion. Rest for 2-3 weeks is required. 

>Level 2: The muscle is partially torn, and the range of motion of the hip joint is reduced with some loss of strength, 2-3 months of rest are required. 

>Level 3: The muscle is totally disrupted, with complete loss of strength, resulting in bruises and severe pain. Surgery may be required to connect the muscle, and recovery may take 4 months or more. 


Symptoms of groin strain 

  • Pain and tenderness in groin and inner thighs 
  • There is pain when the legs are brought together (adduction) 
  • Pain when lifting the knee 
  • Loss of strength or difficulty moving your legs 
  • A popping or "popping" sensation during the injury, followed by severe pain in the groin


Diagnosis of groin strain 

  • Starts with the history of the mechanism of injury e.g. sudden groin pain noted on kicking a ball or pain immediately after an abrupt stop while sprinting 
  • Physical examination of different areas of the groin or inner thigh to check for pain, swelling or tenderness or muscle deformity 
  • X-rays, Ultrasound, CT scans and MRI scans to check problems other than muscle strains including bone attachments and other soft tissue injuries and even detect occult groin hernias 


Groin strain treatments 

A groin strain should be treated promptly within 48 hours to reduce swelling and bleeding and relieve pain: 

  • Stop all movements and use RICE (Rest – Ice – Compression – Elevation) first aid 
  • Apply ice to the inner thigh to reduce pain and swelling. It is recommended to apply ice for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for two to three days until the pain subsides 
  • Use an elastic bandage or tape to compress the thigh 
  • Elevate the thigh above the level of the heart 
  • Take anti-inflammatory pain relievers, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers (NSAIDs), to help relieve pain and swelling as medically directed 

For levels 1 and 2 injuries that fail to heal adequately, the following additional measures may be necessary: 


How to prevent groin strain  

Preventing a groin strain involves ensuring that the muscles and surrounding areas are well-conditioned, flexible, and not subjected to sudden or excessive stress during physical activities. Here are some strategies to help prevent groin strains: 

  • Warm-Up before Exercises: Always begin with a dynamic warm-up to increase blood flow to the muscles and improve flexibility. Include exercises that mimic the activity you are about to perform. 
  • Strengthen Muscles: Regularly engage in exercises that strengthen the muscles of the groin, hips, and core. Strong muscles are less likely to be strained. 
  • Improve Flexibility: Incorporate stretching into your daily routine, focusing on the groin, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip flexors. Flexibility helps muscles withstand stretching and reduces the risk of tears. 
  • Gradual Progression in Activity: Increase the intensity and duration of your physical activities gradually. Avoid sudden spikes in activity that your body may not be prepared for. 
  • Proper hydration and rest especially during hot and humid playing conditions


OT&P Medical Advice 

To prevent groin strain, it is recommended to have proper warm-ups, stretching and strengthening of the groin muscles and supporting structures regularly. If you have the above symptoms or have any questions, you are welcome to make an appointment at our physical health clinic for consultation with a doctor or examination. 

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Please note that all medical articles featured on our website have been reviewed by qualified healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for a personal consultation with a qualified medical professional on the reader's medical condition.

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