Common causes of groin pain include groin muscle strain, adductor tendonitis, hernia, bursitis, and contusions resulting from direct trauma, particularly in men. Additionally, pain in the groin area may be referred from the lower back and/or hip.
Medically reviewed by Dr Chaminda Goonetilleke, 10th Jan. 2022
Sudden Onset Groin Pain
The following injuries cause sudden onset, acute groin pain:
Groin strain refers to the tearing or rupture of any of the adductor muscles located on the inner thigh. It is characterized by sudden onset and acute groin pain.
The symptoms of a groin strain include:
- Sudden sharp pain in the inner thigh.
- A varying degree of pain, ranging from mild to severe.
- Discomfort or pain experienced when sprinting or changing direction.
Please note that it may be challenging or painful to engage in activities such as sprinting and changing direction with a groin strain.
A scrotal contusion refers to the presence of bleeding and bruising in the scrotum or testicles due to direct impact or trauma.
Common symptoms associated with this condition include:
- Severe pain
- Swelling in the testicles
- Bruising that may appear later
- Nausea or a feeling of sickness
A pelvic fracture signifies a break in any section of the pelvis. The symptoms of this fracture can differ considerably depending on its severity and type. Typical signs include the onset of pain and, in certain instances, bruising, usually occurring within 48 hours.
Gradual onset groin pain
Certain injuries can lead to gradual onset or chronic groin pain. In such cases, it is often difficult to pinpoint a specific moment when the injury occurred.
Inflammation of the adductor muscles can occur due to overuse or insufficient treatment of a strain.
Common symptoms include:
- Pain and stiffness in the upper groin area.
- Groin pain radiates down the leg and hinders running.
- Inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscles to the bone can be exacerbated by overuse or prior injury.
Iliopsoas bursitis & inflammation
The iliopsoas muscle is a strong hip flexor responsible for swiftly raising the knee during running. Inflammation of the tendon or bursa (a small fluid-filled sac) can result in the following symptoms:
- Gradual onset of deep groin pain.
- Inflammation of the muscle or tendon leads to groin pain, tightness, and swelling.
- Symptoms may include hip pain at the front, which can radiate down to the knee or even extend into the buttocks.
Groin pain from a Hernia
A hernia happens when an internal organ, like the intestine, protrudes through a weak spot in the muscle wall, causing a visible lump.
There are various types of hernias. Inguinal or femoral hernias can cause the following:
- Experiencing increased groin pain during physical activity.
- Pain intensifies when coughing or sneezing, and it may lead to swelling or the appearance of a lump.
Gilmore’s Groin develops when there is excessive strain on the groin and pelvic region, often associated with kicking sports like soccer and rugby.
The symptoms include:
- Groin pain intensifies during activities such as running, sprinting, twisting, and turning.
- Feeling stiff or sore in the groin area after training or the next day.
- Groin pain may also be triggered by coughing or sneezing.
Osteitis pubis, also referred to as pubic bone stress injury, is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Groin pain originates from the pubic bones located at the front of the pelvis.
- The pain typically develops gradually and is commonly experienced during activities such as running or performing exercises like sit-ups.
Spermatic cord torsion
Testicular torsion, commonly referred to as the twisting of the spermatic cord, is a condition that leads to reduced blood flow between the testicle and the abdomen. It is a serious condition as complete loss of blood flow can result in the rapid death of the testicle.
Symptoms of spermatic cord torsion include:
- Sudden and severe pain in the scrotum accompanied by swelling and tenderness.
- The athlete may experience a sense of heaviness in the testicle, as well as nausea and vomiting.
Causes of testicular torsion may include abnormal testicle mobility or direct impact that causes the testicle to rotate. Nearly all torsions occur in adolescent boys. Larger testicles are more likely to become twisted.