A groin strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon in the area between the tops of your thighs and your belly (the groin). Tendons are strong bands of tissue that attach muscle to bone.
What is the cause?
A groin strain most often happens when you are running or jumping, or when you put extra strain on your groin muscles, like when you lift something heavy.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms may include:
Pain or tenderness along the inner side of your thigh or in the groin area
Pain in your groin when you bring your legs together or lift your knee up
How is it diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, activities, and medical history and examine you.
How is it treated?
You will need to change or stop doing the activities that cause pain until your muscle or tendon has healed. For example, you may need to swim instead of run.
Your healthcare provider may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises to help you heal.
To help reduce movement as you return to athletic activities and prevent more muscle damage, your provider may also recommend:
Wearing a supportive bandage called a thigh wrap
Having someone with experience tape the injured muscle
A mild strain may heal within a few weeks. A more severe strain may take 6 weeks or longer to heal.
How can I take care of myself?
To help relieve swelling and pain:
Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth on the sore area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time.
Do ice massage. To do this, freeze water in a Styrofoam cup, then peel the top of the cup away to expose the ice. Hold the bottom of the cup and rub the ice over the painful area for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this several times a day while you have pain.
Take nonprescription pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, you should not take these medicines for more than 10 days.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age.
Acetaminophen may cause liver damage or other problems. Unless recommended by your provider, don’t take more than 3000 milligrams (mg) in 24 hours. To make sure you donâ€™t take too much, check other medicines you take to see if they also contain acetaminophen. Ask your provider if you need to avoid drinking alcohol while taking this medicine.
After you recover from your injury, moist heat may help relax your muscles and make it easier to use them. Put moist heat on the sore area for 10 to 15 minutes before you do warm-up and stretching exercises. Moist heat includes heat patches or moist heating pads that you can buy at most drugstores, a wet washcloth or towel that has been heated in a microwave or the dryer, or a hot shower. Donâ€™t use heat if you have swelling.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions, including any exercises recommended by your provider. Ask your provider:
How long it will take to recover
If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
How to take care of yourself at home
What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.
How can I help prevent a groin strain?
Warm-up exercises and stretching before activities can help prevent injuries. This is especially important if you are doing jumping or sprinting sports.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-10-21 Last reviewed: 2014-09-15
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Groin Strain: References
Clinical Orthopaedic Rehabilitation An Evidence-Based Approach, Third Edition, Brotzman SB, Manske, RC, Elsevier, 2011
Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care 4, Sarwark, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons 2010.
Sports Medicine Consult, Busconi BD, Stevenson JH, Lippincott 2009.