A groin pull is an injury to the adductor muscles called a muscle strain. When a muscle is strained, the muscle is stretched too far. Less severe strains pull the muscle beyond their normal excursion. More severe strains tear the muscle fibers, and can even cause a complete tear of the muscle. Most commonly, groin pulls are minor tears of some muscle fibers, but the bulk of the muscle tissue remains intact.
Symptoms of a Groin StrainAn acute groin pull can be quite painful, depending on the severity of the injury. Groin pulls are usually graded as follows:
- Grade I Groin Strain: Mild discomfort, often no disability. Usually does not limit activity.
- Grade II Groin Strain: Moderate discomfort, can limit ability to perform activities such as running and jumping. May have moderate swelling and bruising associated.
- Grade III Groin Strain: Severe injury that can cause pain with walking. Often patients complain of muscle spasm, swelling, and significant bruising.
A pulled groin is usually a clear diagnosis. Most athletes know what the injury is before they seek medical attention. However, other conditions can mimic the symptoms of a groin strain. One condition that was previously not well recognized is called a sports hernia. Sports hernias have been found in patients who were diagnosed with chronic groin strains. The sports hernia is a condition similar to a regular inguinal hernia, and is due to a weakening of the muscles that form the abdominal wall. The symptoms of a sports hernia are often nearly identical to those of a groin strain.
Other conditions that may mimic the symptoms of a groin strain include osteitis pubis (inflammation of the pubic bone), hip joint problems (including early arthritis, labral tears, and other conditions), and low back problems (pinched nerves).
When do I need to see a doctor for a groin pull?
If you have symptoms of a severe groin pull, you should be evaluated for proper treatment. Some signs of a severe groin strain include:
- Difficulty walking
- Pain while sitting or at rest
- Pain at night
If you are unsure if you have a groin pull or the symptoms do not quickly resolve, then you should be seen by your doctor. As described above, other conditions can be confused with a groin pull, and these should be considered if your symptoms do not resolve. Once a strain is diagnosed, you can begin treatment for your groin pull.