Simply mentioning a groin injury is enough to make most people cringe as they imagine the pain in this delicate area. Getting relief from the pain and rehabilitating your injury so you can return to sports requires an expert in sports medicine and orthopedics, like Gregory M. Stanley, MD, MBA, FAAOS, at Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, P.C. in Hood River and The Dalles, Oregon.
Though any physician can recommend resting the pulled muscle until it heals, you need more than that to return to sports with the muscle strength and balance needed to prevent future groin injuries. To achieve the highest level of healing, you need an orthopedic specialist.
Groin injuries defined
Groin injuries occur when you pull or tear a muscle or tendon in the area where the upper thigh meets your lower abdomen. You could suffer an acute groin injury or develop a gradual overuse injury.
The muscles most often involved in groin injuries include:
Hip adductor muscles
This group of muscles connects the thigh to the pelvic bone. Their job is to pull the thigh toward the center of your body.
This deep muscle connects the spine to your legs. Its primary job is to flex your hips (pull your leg up toward your body). A strained iliopsoas muscle causes 17-25% of all groin injuries and often causes hip pain.
Movements leading to groin injuries
Athletes most often develop groin injuries when they perform movements that put excessive stress on the muscles mentioned above, such as:
- Changing direction
- Rapid starting and stopping
- Upper body twisting
As you can tell from the list of movements, sports like soccer, hockey, football, and sprinting frequently result in groin injuries.
Many groin injuries occur when there’s an imbalance between the adductors and the abdominal muscles connecting your pelvic bone to the sternum (breast bone attached to your ribs). The abdominal muscles move and bend your upper body.
The abdominal muscles on the upper side of the pelvis move the hip in one direction, while the adductors move it in the opposite direction. Working together, they stabilize the hip. But an injury, inflammation, or weakness in one group of muscles puts you at risk of pulling the other group.
Groin injury symptoms
The primary symptom is pain in the inner and upper thigh. You may also have swelling or bruising in the groin area, muscle spasms, and difficulty walking, either because of the pain or leg weakness.
The pain often occurs when performing simple movements, like lifting your leg or doing sit-ups.
Groin injury treatments
During your visit, we carefully examine your injury, identify the location of your pain, and put you through a few maneuvers to verify a groin injury. This step is important because problems in your hip, such as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), also cause groin pain.
We may perform on-site imaging, such as digital X-rays or ultrasounds, to identify the exact source of your groin pain and the extent of the injury.
After we diagnose your groin injury, we create a treatment plan that may include:
- Activity modification to rest the muscles
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Strengthening weak muscle
- Stretching tight muscles
- Postural training
- Core stabilization
- Physical therapy
Though conservative orthopedic care is always the first line of treatment, we may recommend surgical repair of the muscles, depending on the severity of the injury and your athletic goals.
Athletes who want to maintain top performance may need surgery to restore strength. After surgery, we develop an intensive rehabilitation plan that lets most athletes return to sports in 6-12 weeks.
The combination of conservative orthopedic care followed by surgery has a great success rate, getting more than 90% of athletes back in the game without sustaining future injuries.
If you develop groin pain, don’t wait to seek help from the team at Cascade Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Center, P.C. Call the office or request an appointment online today.