Groin Strain

Groin Strain

Lee este articuloIt was late in the third period of Wayne's fourth hockey game in 5 days, and he was exhausted, but he wasn't going to let it show. He was still going all out and sprinting after every loose puck. But on one play, he was skating fast and tried to make a sudden change in direction when he felt a sharp pain in his right groin and could barely make it off the ice.

The next day Wayne's groin felt tight and painful, and there appeared to be some swelling in the area, so he went to see a doctor. The doctor asked some questions, examined him, and told Wayne he had a grade 2 groin strain.

What Is a Groin Strain?

A groin strain — also known as a groin pull — is a partial or complete tear of one or more of the muscles that help you squeeze your legs together.

There are five of these muscles, called the adductor muscles: The pectineus, adductor brevis,and adductor longus (the short adductors) run from your pelvis to your thighbone. The gracilis and adductor magnus (long adductors) run from your pelvis to your knee.

Groin strains are a common injury in hockey and skiing, as well as sports like football and track and field that require running or jumping. They can range from grade 1, which is a mild injury with few symptoms and a short recovery time, to grade 3, which is a complete or nearly complete tear of a groin muscle.

What Are the Symptoms of a Groin Strain?

The symptoms of a groin strain vary somewhat depending on the grade of the strain. All groin strains will cause pain and tenderness in the affected area, and many will hurt when you bring your legs together or raise your knee. If a strain is severe, you may feel a popping or snapping sensation during the injury and severe pain afterward.

Here's what you'll likely notice for different grades of groin sprain:

How Is a Groin Strain Diagnosed?

If you see a doctor for a strained groin, he or she will ask about your symptoms and what you were doing when the injury happened. The doctor will examine the affected area to check for swelling, bruising, and tenderness — and to rule out another condition with similar symptoms, such as a sports hernia. In rare instances, the doctor may send you for an MRI scan to determine the extent of the tear.

The doctor will grade your strain. Grade 1 means that less than 10% of the muscle fibers are torn. Grade 2 strains are those where 10% to 90% of the fibers are torn. (Because of the big range in grade 2 strains, a doctor might grade strains on a scale from 2- to 2+.) Grade 3 means that the muscle is either completely or almost completely torn or ruptured.

What Causes a Groin Strain?

Groin strains usually happen when the adductor muscles get stretched too far and begin to tear. Strains also can occur when the adductor muscles suddenly have stress put on them when they aren't ready for it (as when someone doesn't go through a proper warm-up before playing) or when there's a direct blow to one of the muscles.

Some of the risk factors that can make a groin pull more likely include:

How Can You Prevent a Groin Strain?

The main thing you can do to help prevent a strained groin is to warm up and stretch before any exercise or intense physical activity. Jog in place for a minute or two, or do some jumping jacks to get your muscles warmed up. Then do some dynamic stretching (ask a coach, athletic trainer, or sports medicine specialist to show you how to do this type of stretching).

Some other things you can do to try and prevent groin strains include:

How Should You Treat a Groin Strain?

Most groin strains will heal on their own in time. The key is patience because it can take a while to fully recover. Even if you feel better, a groin strain may not be fully healed, and you risk starting over with the injury if you get back in the game too soon.

Mild to moderate strains will need around 4 to 8 weeks of proper rehabilitation. More severe strains will take longer to heal. Only the most severe muscle tears require surgery. To treat a groin strain, take these steps and be sure to follow your doctor's advice:

In the event of a complete muscle tear, or if the treatments above don't help after a few months, a doctor may call for surgery as a last resort. In this case, a surgeon will either attempt to reattach a torn tendon to a bone or stitch torn muscle tissue back together. Some people are able to return to previous levels of activity after surgery. A doctor will only choose this option as a last resort — and fortunately it's rarely needed.

Most groin strains heal on their own as long as the athlete follows a doctor's or physical therapist's instructions about rest and rehabilitation. The key is patience.

It can be frustrating to wait the full time needed to get back in the game, but this is one kind of injury you don't want to mess with. Get your doctor's signoff for any kind of exercise.

The good news is that once you're fully healed, you should be able to play as you used to.

Reviewed by: Suken A. Shah, MD
Date reviewed: November 2014

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2015 KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by iStock, Getty Images, Corbis, Veer, Science Photo Library, Science Source Images, Shutterstock, and

Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationAmerican Physical Therapy Association This organization provides information on physical therapy, from therapists in each state to current research.
OrganizationAmerican College of Sports Medicine This site has tips on staying safe while playing sports and exercising.
OrganizationNational Athletic Trainers' Association This site contains information on certified athletic trainers and tips on preventing and healing sports injuries.
Related Articles
Dealing With Sports Injuries You practiced hard and made sure you wore protective gear, but you still got hurt. Read this article to find out how to take care of sports injuries - and how to avoid getting them.
Safety Tips: Skiing There's a lot to love about skiing, but it can also present some very real dangers, from frostbite and sunburn to blown knees and head injuries. Follow these tips to stay safe on the slopes.
What Happens If You Keep Playing Sports When You're Injured? Find out what the experts have to say.
Strains and Sprains Sprains and strains are common injuries, especially for people who play hard or are into sports. Find out what they are and how to recuperate from one.
Sports Center This site has tips on things like preparing for a new season, handling sports pressure, staying motivated, and dealing with injuries.
Safety Tips: Basketball It may be fun to play and great exercise, but basketball is also a contact sport, and injuries occur frequently. To help make sure you're doing everything you can to stay safe on the basketball court, follow these safety tips.
Developments Developments
Sign up for enewsletter
Get involved Get involved
Discover ways to support Akron Children's