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What causes groin pain? 13 possible conditions

The groin is an area of your hip between your stomach and thigh. It is located where your abdomen ends and your legs begin. The groin area has five muscles that work together to move your leg. These are called:

  • adductor brevis
  • adductor longus
  • adductor magnus
  • gracilis
  • pectineus

Groin pain is any discomfort in this area. The pain typically results from an injury caused by physical activity, such as sports. A pulled or strained muscle in the groin area is one of the most common injuries among athletes.

What’s Causing My Groin Pain?

Groin pain is a common symptom and can happen to anyone. There are some potential causes of groin pain that are more common than others.

Most Common Causes

The most common cause of groin pain is a strain of the muscles, ligaments, or tendons in the groin area. This type of injury occurs most often in athletes. If you play a contact sport, such as football, rugby, or hockey, it’s likely that you’ve had groin pain at some point.

Another common cause of groin pain is an inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia occurs when internal tissues push through a weak spot in the groin muscles. This can create a bulging lump in your groin area and cause pain. Kidney stones (small, hard mineral deposits in the kidneys and bladder) or bone fractures can cause groin pain as well.

Less Common Causes

The less common disorders and conditions that could cause pain or discomfort in the groin are:

  • intestinal inflammation
  • testicular inflammation
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • ovarian cysts
  • pinched nerves
  • urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Knowing When to Contact Your Doctor

Talk to your doctor about your symptoms if you have moderate to severe pain in your groin or testicles for more than a few days.

Contact your doctor immediately if:

  • you notice physical changes in the testicles, such as lumps or swelling
  • there is blood in your urine
  • the pain spreads to your lower back, chest, or abdomen
  • you develop a fever or feel nauseous

If you have any of these symptoms with your groin pain, seek emergency medical care. These symptoms could be signs of a more serious condition, such as a testicular infection, testicular torsion (twisted testicle), or cancer of the testicles. You should also seek emergency medical care if you have severe testicular pain that occurs suddenly.

Diagnosing Groin Pain

Most cases of groin pain do not require medical attention. However, you should see a doctor if you experience severe, prolonged pain accompanied by fever or swelling. These symptoms may indicate a more serious condition.

Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and ask about any recent physical activity. This information will help your doctor diagnose the problem. Your doctor will then perform a physical examination of the groin area along with other tests, if necessary.

Hernia Test

Your doctor will insert one finger into the scrotum (the sac that contains the testicles) and ask you to cough. Coughing raises the pressure in the abdomen and pushes your intestines into the hernia opening.

X-Ray and Ultrasound

These tests can help your doctor see if a bone fracture, testicular mass, or ovarian cyst is causing the groin pain.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

This type of blood test can help determine if an infection is present.

Treatment for Groin Pain

The treatment for your groin pain will depend on the underlying cause. You can often treat minor strains at home, but more severe groin pain may require medical treatment.

Home Care

If your groin pain is the result of a strain, treatment at home is probably your best option. Resting and taking a break from physical activity for two to three weeks will allow your strain to heal naturally. Pain medications, including acetaminophen (Tylenol), may be taken to manage your pain and discomfort. Applying ice packs for 20 minutes a few times per day can help as well.

Medical Treatment

If a broken bone or fracture is the cause of your groin pain, surgery may be required to repair the bone. You may also need surgery if an inguinal hernia is the underlying cause of your symptoms

If home care methods do not work for your strain injury, your doctor might prescribe drugs that reduce inflammation to help relieve your symptoms. If this does not work and you have recurring strain injuries, your doctor might advise you to go to physical therapy.

Preventing Groin Pain

There are a few steps that you can take to avoid groin pain. For athletes, gentle stretching is a way to help prevent injury. Doing a slow, steady warm-up before physical activity can help reduce your risk of a groin injury, especially if you do it consistently. Maintaining a healthy weight and being careful when lifting heavy objects can help prevent hernias.

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See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.


Swollen Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes are small glands that filter lymph, the fluid that circulates through the lymphatic system. They become swollen in response to infection and tumors.

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Obstructive Uropathy

Obstructive uropathy is a condition in which your urine flow is blocked, and backs up into the kidneys. IIt may be caused by a blockage in one of the ureters.

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Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are solid masses of crystalized calcium or other substances that originate in the kidneys but can pass through the urinary tract. The greatest risk factor is making less than one liter of urine per day.

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A hernia occurs when an organ pushes through the muscle or tissue that holds it in place. Hernias are most common in the abdomen but can appear elsewhere.

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Epididymitis is inflammation of the epididymis, the tube located at the back of the testicles that stores and carries sperm. It's usually caused by a bacterial or sexually transmitted infection.

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Orchitis is the inflammation of the testicles. It can be caused by either bacterial or viral infection such as the mumps or certain STIs. Symptoms are often restricted to just one testicle in most men.

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Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland, which produces a fluid found in semen. The inflammation may spread to the area around the prostate. Causes include bladder infection, STDs, and injuries to the prostate.

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Chronic Nonbacterial Prostatitis

Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis causes pain and inflammation in the prostate and the lower urinary tract in men. It's a common condition, especially in men between the ages of 35 and 50 and the cause is often unknown.

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Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is cancer that originates in one or both testicles (testes), the male reproductive glands located inside the scrotum responsible for producing sperm and the testosterone hormone.

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Sprains & Strains

Sprains and strains are injuries to the body, often resulting from physical activity. These injuries are common and can range from minor to severe, depending on the incident. Most don't require medical attention.

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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

The aorta carries blood from your heart down to your abdomen, legs, and pelvis. Swollen aortic walls in the abdomen is known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

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Legg-Calve-Perthes' Disease

Juvenile osteochondrosis affecting the head of the femur is also known as Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. In this condition, blood supply to the ball of the femur is cut off and the bone dies. It primarily affects youn...

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Marine Animal Bites or Stings

This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.

Stingrays have venomous spines on their tails that can cause a painful wound, nausea, and weakness, and sometimes death. Swimming or snorkeling in shallow waters puts you at risk for coming in contact.

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.