If you feel pain in your inner thigh, you may wonder what’s going on and how you can get some relief. While it could be something simple like a pulled muscle after working out without stretching, it also could be the sign of something more serious such a blood clot.

Read on to find out what might be causing pain in your inner thigh, how you may be able to relieve the pain, and when you need to be concerned.

Inner thigh pain can range from a dull ache to a burning sensation or even a sharp stabbing pain. Other symptoms that may accompany inner thigh pain include:

  • difficulty walking
  • clicking or grinding when moving
  • swelling
  • stiffness
  • muscle spasms

Inner thigh pain is typically the result of an underlying condition. Some of the most common include:

Blood clot or deep vein thrombosis

While most blood clots aren’t harmful, when one forms deep in one of your major veins, it results in a serious condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). While deep vein clots appear more frequently in the lower legs, they can form in one or both thighs as well. In some cases, there are no symptoms. Other times, symptoms may include:

  • swelling
  • pain
  • tenderness
  • a warm sensation
  • a pale or bluish discoloration

As a result of DVT, some people develop a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism, in which a blood clot travels to the lungs. Symptoms may include:

  • sudden shortness of breath
  • chest pain or discomfort that worsens when you take a deep breath or when you cough
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • rapid pulse
  • coughing up blood

Risk factors for DVT include:

  • having an injury that damages your veins
  • being overweight, which puts more pressure on the veins in your legs and pelvis
  • having a family history of DVT
  • having a catheter placed in a vein
  • taking birth control pills or undergoing hormone therapy
  • smoking (especially heavily)
  • staying seated for a long time while you’re in a car or on a plane, especially if you already have at least one other risk factor
  • being pregnant
  • having just had surgery

Treatment for DVT ranges from lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, to prescription blood thinners, and compression stockings. In some cases, a doctor may recommend the insertion of a filter inside the large abdominal vein to prevent clots from entering the lungs.

Hernia

If you feel a bulge or lump along with the pain in your upper thigh, it could be a hernia. Though most common in the abdomen, they can also appear in the upper thigh, particularly where the groin and thigh meet.

The most common type of hernia is an inguinal hernia, which happens when the intestines push through a weak spot or tear in the lower abdominal wall, often in the inguinal canal, which is in the groin. Other symptoms of an inguinal hernia include:

  • pain or discomfort in the affected area (usually the lower abdomen), especially when bending over, coughing, or lifting
  • weakness, pressure, or a feeling of heaviness in the abdomen
  • a burning, gurgling, or aching sensation at the site of the bulge

Inguinal hernias are typically diagnosed through a physical examination. Treatment will depend on the size and severity of the hernia, but may include lifestyle changes, medication, or surgery.

Hip-related issues, such as osteoarthritis

A common cause of hip pain you may feel down into your thigh is osteoarthritis (OA), which is a type of arthritis caused by a breakdown in the cartilage that covers the joints in your hips. The most common symptoms of OA are pain and stiffness.

Treatments for OA include lifestyle changes, such as exercise and losing weight, as well as home remedies, such as heat and cold therapy, medications, and the use of therapeutic devices, such as a brace or cane. In some cases, surgery may be recommended.

Pregnancy

While some inner thigh pain is normal during pregnancy, there’s also a condition known as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) that causes more severe pain. It typically starts at the beginning of the second trimester when the ligaments that normally keep the sides of the pelvic bone together at the symphysis pubis becomes too relaxed. This leads to pain and inflammation.

Symptoms of SPD may include:

  • pain that is burning or shooting and may travel down the inner thigh
  • clicking or grinding when moving
  • difficulty in walking, turning in bed, or climbing stairs

During pregnancy, the condition is typically treated by modifying activity, getting rest, performing exercises to improve the stability of the pelvis and back, using assistive devices like pelvic support belts, and icing the area. The condition typically resolves on its own after the baby is delivered, though in some rare cases the pain will persist for several months after delivery.

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Muscle strains or tears

While muscle strains can happen in any part of the body, a groin strain may lead to pain in your inner thigh. Symptoms may include:

  • sudden onset of pain
  • soreness
  • limited range of movement
  • bruising or discoloration
  • swelling
  • a “knotted-up” feeling
  • muscle spasms
  • stiffness
  • weakness

Most groin strains are caused by a failure to warm up before exercise or overuse of the muscle due to repetition or overly vigorous activity. Typically, strains can be treated with ice, heat, and anti-inflammatory medications. More severe strains or tears may require treatment by a doctor. You should see a doctor if the pain doesn’t get better after a week or if the area is numb or leaves you unable to move your leg.

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Femoroacetabular impingement in the hip

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) occurs when the bones of the hip develop abnormally. The bones then rub against one another during movement, which can damage the joints over time. While some people never have problems as a result of the condition, others may develop symptoms that can include pain or aching in the inner thigh as well as stiffness and limping.

Treatment includes home remedies such as limiting activities and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.

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Kidney stones

Kidney stones form when normal substances in your urine become too concentrated. While some kidney stones cause no symptoms, others cause enormous pain for individuals as they pass through the urinary tract. Sometimes that pain will be felt in the inner thigh.

Other symptoms of kidney stones may include:

Oftentimes, kidney stones will pass on their own, with no need for medical treatment. In other cases, however, surgery or other medical procedures may be necessary to dissolve or remove the stones.

While the underlying causes for thigh pain vary, in general, some risk factors for developing it include:

  • pregnancy
  • being overweight
  • strenuous exercise
  • exercising without stretching first
  • smoking

Because inner thigh pain is typically the result of an underlying condition, a doctor will first attempt to determine what is causing it. To do so, they may perform the following:

  • physical examination
  • review of symptoms and medical history
  • X-rays
  • blood tests
  • ultrasound

Home and natural remedies

In many cases, thigh pain can be treated without prescription medications or medical intervention. Natural remedies you may find effective include:

  • heat and ice therapy
  • lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and exercising
  • rest
  • hydrotherapy
  • supplements
  • acupuncture
  • massage therapy

Other treatments for inner thigh pain

Depending on the cause for the pain, other treatment options your doctor may suggest include:

  • OTC pain medications
  • prescription medications, such as corticosteroids
  • therapeutic devices, such as a brace or cane
  • surgery

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Most thigh pain isn’t a sign of something serious. However, in rare cases it may be caused by DVT, which is a potentially life-threatening disease. If you experience any of the following symptoms of DVT, you should seek medical attention:

  • sudden shortness of breath
  • chest pain or discomfort that worsens when you take a deep breath or when you cough
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • rapid pulse
  • coughing up blood

While not all thigh pain can be prevented, taking the following steps may minimize your risk of developing it:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stretch before exercising.
  • Avoid smoking.

In most cases, thigh pain isn’t cause for alarm. If more serious symptoms don’t occur along with it, you can typically attempt to treat it at home with ice, heat, rest, and OTC pain relievers. However, if the pain doesn’t go away after several days or it gets worse, you should see a doctor.

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