Your groin area is the region between your lower abdomen and your upper thighs. A pinched nerve in the groin happens when tissues — like muscles, bones, or tendons — in your groin compress a nerve.

Tissue pinching on the nerve can interfere with the nerve’s ability to supply sensory information to a certain area of the body. This can result in symptoms like pain, tingling, or numbness that may only affect your groin area or shoot down your leg.

A pinched groin nerve can have a number of causes, from groin injuries to being overweight.

A temporarily pinched nerve might not cause long-term complications. But a nerve pinched for a long period can become permanently damaged or cause chronic pain.

Here are some of the most common causes of pinched groin nerves:

  • Injuring the groin area. Breaking a pelvic or upper leg bone or straining a muscle or ligament can pinch groin nerves. Groin inflammation and swelling from injuries can also pinch nerves.
  • Wearing tight or heavy clothes. Skinny jeans, corsets, belts, or dresses that squeeze your groin can pinch nerves, especially as you move and tissues push against each other.
  • Being overweight or obese. Pressure from body weight on internal tissues, especially when you stand or move around, can pinch nerves.
  • Injuring your back. Lower back and spinal cord injuries can push on nerve or groin tissues and pinch groin nerves.
  • Being pregnant. An expanding uterus can push on tissues around it, pinching nearby nerves. As your baby grows, their head can also put pressure on the pelvic area, resulting in pinched pelvic and groin nerves.
  • Medical conditions. Some nervous system conditions, such as meralgia paresthetica or diabetes, can pinch, compress, or damage nerves.

Common symptoms of a pinched groin nerve include:

  • loss of sensation in the areas supplied by the nerve is, as if it’s “asleep”
  • weakness or loss of muscle strength in the affected area, especially when you walk or use pelvic and groin muscles
  • pins and needles sensation (paresthesia)
  • numbness in groin or upper thighs
  • pain ranging from dull, aching, and chronic to sharp, intense, and sudden

Muscle spasms can result in a twitching sensation or pain that can run from mild to severe. The symptoms are often similar to those of a pinched nerve.

Nerve damage or overstimulation can cause a muscle spasm, but spasms are distinct from pinched nerves in that they can have a number of other causes and don’t just happen when nerves are compressed. Some common causes of muscle spasms include:

  • intense exercise that causes lactic acid buildup in muscles
  • anxiety or stress
  • having a lot of caffeine or other stimulants
  • deficiencies in calcium, vitamin B, or vitamin D
  • being dehydrated
  • using cigarettes or other products that contain nicotine
  • taking certain medications, such as corticosteroids
  • long-term effects of neurological disease, such as a stroke or cerebral palsy

The most obvious way to identify a pinched nerve is by trying to isolate what movements result in any noticeable symptoms like pain or weakness. For example, if you step down on your foot and the resulting pressure causes pain in your groin, a pinched nerve may be the issue.

When you go to your appointment, your doctor will first perform a physical examination in which they’ll ask you about your medical history and symptoms. They’ll also visually examine your entire body for any signs of conditions that could result in pinched groin nerves.

Your doctor may also recommend tests to look more closely at the tissues and behaviors of muscles and nerves in your groin and pelvic area to diagnose a pinched nerve. Some possible tests include:

  • electromyography (EMG) with a small needle and electrode on groin muscles to measure muscle behavior when you’re active and resting
  • MRIto look for nerve compression in detailed images of your body produced by magnetic fields and radio waves
  • nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test using patch electrodes on the skin to stimulate nerves with minor jolts of electricity

You may also be referred to a neurologist. These specialists can examine your nerve function in relation to your body’s entire nervous system as well as diagnose any nervous system dysfunction or disorders.

Some medical treatments that your doctor might prescribe include:

  • corticosteroid injections to relieve any inflammation that’s pinching the nerve as well as reduce your pain
  • tricyclic antidepressants to help reduce pain
  • antiseizure medications like pregabalin (Lyrica) or gabapentin (Neurontin) to reduce the painful effects of a pinched nerve
  • physical therapy to help you learn how to move your groin, hip, or leg muscles so that you don’t pinch or damage nerves
  • surgery (in severe cases) to reduce pressure on the nerve caused by long-term inflammation or medical conditions

Here are some home remedies to reduce the pain of a pinched nerve or stop this from happening altogether:

  • Rest and reduce pressure on the nerve until the pain subsides.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Don’t wear belts too tight.
  • Try to lose extra weight that may be adding pressure to groin nerves.
  • Do daily stretches to relieve pressure on your groin nerves.
  • Apply a cold pack to reduce swelling or a hot pack to relax muscles.
  • Consider using a standing desk or posture corrector to reduce pressure on your hips and groin and prevent nerve pinching.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen (Advil).

Here are some stretches you can try to relieve a pinched nerve in your groin.

Piriformis stretch

To do it:

  • Sit down with your legs bent and parallel to each other.
  • Put the ankle on the side of your groin that feels pinched on the other knee.
  • Lie down flat, facing up.
  • Bend your leg until you can reach your knee with your hands.
  • Slowly and gently pull your knee toward your face.
  • Reach down to grab your ankle and pull your leg up towards the hip on the other side of your body.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat with your other leg.
  • Do this 3 times for each leg.

Outer hip stretch

To do it:

  • Stand upright and put the leg on the side that feels pinched behind your other leg.
  • Move your hip outward and lean to the opposite side.
  • Extend the arm on the side of the affected part of the groin above your head and stretch it toward that side of your body.
  • Hold this position for up to 20 seconds.
  • Repeat with the opposite side of your body.

See your doctor as soon as possible if a pinched nerve is causing intense, disruptive pain that makes it hard to go about your daily life or work for a long period of time.

This is especially important if you’re an athlete, do manual labor in your profession, or do a lot of physical activity around the home. The earlier you figure out what’s causing it and how to treat it, the less likely you’ll experience any long-term pain or damage.

You should also see your doctor if any pain appears suddenly without any obvious cause like sitting for long periods or doing intense physical activity.

Make an appointment if you notice any of the following as well:

  • a bulge in your groin area, which could be a hernia or a tumor
  • you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), such as burning when you urinate, or general pelvic pain
  • you have symptoms of kidney stones, such as blood in your urine or severe pain when you urinate

A pinched nerve in your groin isn’t usually a serious issue and may go away on its own with some home treatment or preventive measures.

See your doctor if the pain lasts for a long time or is so intense that it disrupts your daily activities.