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Groin Pull/Strain FAQ: Symptoms, Treatment & More

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

Groin pulls (also known as “groin strains”) occur when muscles in the groin or inner thigh are pushed past their limits. Groin pulls often occur suddenly. They are especially common in soccer, football and hockey players, though any athlete that has to suddenly change direction can be at risk for groin pulls.

There are a few precautions you can take to prevent groin strains:

  • Warm up the muscles in your leg prior to physical activity.
  • Buy athletic shoes that give you the support you need.
  • Take it slow in increasing your physical activity. For example, don’t try to start jogging five miles a day when your body’s only used to doing one mile per day.
  • If you feel pain or tightness in the upper thigh, stop what you’re doing and rest.

What Are the Symptoms of Groin Pull?

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain or soreness in the groin and/or upper inside of the thigh
  • Pain when bringing the knees together
  • Pain when raising a knee
  • A popping sensation in the groin (accompanied by severe pain)

How Are Groin Pulls Graded?

If you see a sports medicine specialist for a groin pull, your doctor may classify the pull into one of three stages or grades. Assigning a grade to your strain can help determine the treatment and recovery process. There are three grades of groin pulls:

  • 1st Degree – some pain, but little loss of strength or range of motion
  • 2nd Degree – moderate pain with some loss of strength and tissue damage
  • 3rd Degree – muscle is completely torn, resulting in severe pain with severe loss of strength and movement

How Are Groin Pulls Treated?

In many cases, groin pulls resolve on their own. RICE therapy is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you sustain a groin pull. Additionally, your sports medicine doctor may recommend taking an NSAID for managing pain and swelling. Finally, some groin strains may benefit from treatment by a physical therapist. Surgery is an option your doctor may consider as a last resort; however, groin pull surgery is usually not necessary.

When Can I Return to Activity?

Recovery from a groin strain could take just a few days or weeks (mild strains) to months (severe strains). Four to six weeks is a normal recovery window. However, every injury and body is different. Do no return to your previous level of physical activity until you have no pain, discomfort or weakness in the injured leg. Failure to do so could result in a worse groin injury.

Schedule With a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor

For groin pulls and other sports medicine needs in the Houston area, schedule an appointment at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics. Call (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.