What causes groin pain? 13 possible conditions

Groin Pain

The groin is an area of your hip between your stomach and thigh, where your abdomen ends and your legs begin. The groin area contains five muscles that work together to move your leg. These include:

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

Groin pain is any pain in this area, typically as the result of an injury from physical activity or sports. A pulled or strained muscle in the groin area is the most common injury among athletes.

What’s Causing My Groin Pain?

Groin pain is a common symptom and can happen to anyone. There are a number of potential causes of groin pain.

Most Common Causes

The most common cause of groin pain is strain of the muscles, ligaments, or tendons in the groin area. This type of injury is most commonly seen 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 one of your internal organs pushes through the protective muscle that surrounds it. 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

There are a number of less common disorders and conditions that could cause you pain or discomfort in your groin. These include:

  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • intestinal inflammation
  • testicular inflammation
  • pinched nerve
  • urinary tract infection (UTI)

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
  • pain spreads to the lower back, chest, or abdomen
  • you develop a fever or feel nauseous

These symptoms could be signs of a more serious condition, such as a testicular infection, testicular torsion (twisted testicle), or cancer of the testicles. If your groin pain is accompanied by any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical care. Severe testicular pain that comes about suddenly should also be treated as an emergency.

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.

To diagnose the underlying cause of your groin pain, your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and ask about any recent physical activity. 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 (sac that contains the testicles) and ask you to cough. Coughing raises pressure in the abdomen and pushes your intestines into the hernia opening.

X-Rays and Ultrasounds

These tests can help your doctor see if a bone fracture or inflammation is causing 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. Minor strains can often be treated at home, while 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 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 your groin pain is caused by a broken bone or fracture in the area, surgery may be required to repair the bone. If an inguinal hernia is the underlying cause of your symptoms, surgery may be needed.

If home care methods do not work for your strain injury, drugs that reduce inflammation might be prescribed to help relieve your symptoms. If this does not work and you have reoccurring strain injuries, your doctor might think it is best that you perform 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. A slow, steady warmup before doing physical activity can help reduce your risk of groin injury, especially when done consistently. Maintaining a healthy weight and taking care when lifting heavy objects can help you prevent hernias.

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


Swollen Lymph Nodes

The lymph nodes are glands that house white blood cells, which are responsible for killing invading organisms. They can become swollen in response to tumors and infections such as mono and ear and skin infections.

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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 - the tube that channels urine between the bladder and th...

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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. However, they can also appear in the upper thigh, belly button, and groin regions.

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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 or bulging aortic walls in the abdomen is known as an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which causes pain.

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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.
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