Groin Pain: 8 Common Causes & What to Do

Medical review: Dr. Clarisse Bezerra
Family Doctor
August 2022

Groin pain can be caused by a pulled muscle, an inguinal or abdominal hernia, or inflammation of the sciatic nerve. Groin pain can be felt on the left or right side, and is more frequent in people who practice high impact sports, like soccer, tennis or track. 

Groin pain can occur with other symptoms, like fever over 38ºC (100.4ºF), constant vomiting or blood in the urine. These are all signs of a more serious condition, like an infection, kidney stone or appendicitis.

If your groin pain lasts for over a week or if it occurs with other symptoms, you should see your doctor for further assessment and possible treatment.

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Common causes

Groin pain is a symptom that is can be experienced by both men and women. It can be triggered by excess gas, sciatic nerve inflammation, appendicitis or kidney stones. The most common causes of groin pain are: 

1. Pregnancy

It is common for women at the beginning of pregnancy to feel pain and discomfort in the groin region. This occurs because the hip joint becomes looser in preparation for fetal growth and development. Generally, groin pain during pregnancy worsens when lying on your back, or after strenuous activity. 

What to do: If you experience groin pain during pregnancy, you should do some light activity, like water aerobics or Pilates to strengthen the muscles that support the groin. Sensible shoes are also advised to maintain pelvic stability and decrease discomfort. You should avoid stairs when possible, and take medications only under a doctor’s supervision. 

2. Testicular problems

Some abnormalities in men, like epididymitis, orchitis, direct trauma or testicular torsion can cause groin pain in addition to testicular pain. These conditions can be very uncomfortable and affect activities of daily living. 

What to do: You are advised to see a urologist if the pain lasts for over 3 days. You should seek medical attention is the pain is very intense and presents with other symptoms, or if you are unable to carry out your day-to-day routine. 

3. Muscular injury

Groin pain can be a result of a muscular injury, following a long run or high-intensity exercise, for example. Injuries are more prone in people who have one leg shorter than the other, even just a 1 cm difference can cause gait problems and lead to groin pain and discomfort.

What to do: Usually, pain from muscular injuries does not need specific interventions, as the pain will resolve on its own with rest. Nonetheless, avoiding strenuous activity and applying cold compresses can help to relieve pain. 

If pain worsens or if you suspect your legs are of different lengths, you should see an orthopedic surgeon for x-ray. If necessary, the doctor may recommend in-soles to even out leg length, which will help reduce further bouts of groin pain. 

4. Hernia

Groin pain can occur with an inguinal or abdominal hernia. These occur when a small part of the intestine bulges through the muscles along the abdominal wall, causing a visible lump under the skin. These lumps can appear in the groin area, and can cause lots of pain and discomfort. These hernias can occur as a result of straining or after any heavy lifting.

What to do: In these cases, you are advise to apply a cold compress to the area for 15 minutes, 2 to 2 times a day. You should also rest and avoiding intense physical activity, like running or jumping. Depending on the severity of the hernia, the doctor may recommend surgery to reinforce the abdominal muscles and repair the hernia. 

5. Sciatica 

Sciatic pain nerve, or sciatica, can cause groin pain. Many times, the pain radiates down the leg and causes a burning sensation that worsens with walking or sitting. 

What to do: Sciatic pain can be managed by avoiding intense exercise. You should see a doctor to confirm diagnosis and start treatment as needed. Treatment usually involves the use of anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy.

6. Infections

Some viral, fungal or bacterial infections can lead to a small lump within the groin. This lump is usually a reactive lymph node, and is a sign that the body is trying to fight off an infectious agent. 

What to do: If you do not have any other symptoms, then the groin pain or lump is not of clinical concern. If you have symptoms like discharge or pain with urination, however, you should follow-up with your doctor to investigate the underlying cause and start treatment as appropriate.   

7. Ovarian cyst

An ovarian cyst can also cause groin pain, especially in the first 3 days of menstruation. Some women also report symptoms like pain with sex, weight gain and difficulty losing weight. 

What to do: You should see a gynecologist if you have any symptoms of ovarian cysts. The presence of a cyst can be confirmed with ultrasound, and depending on the cyst characteristics, treatment can be started with birth control and/or surgical removal. 

8. Different leg lengths

Groin pain can also be caused by two different sized legs. This finding can also increase the risk for early arthritis. 

What to do: You are advised to consult an orthopedic surgeon for x-rays and assessment to identify whether your legs have different lengths. If confirmed, this condition and subsequent pain can be managed with the use of in-soles.

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Edited by Tua Saude editing team in August 2022. Medical review completed by Dr. Clarisse Bezerra - Family Doctor in August 2022.
Medical review:
Dr. Clarisse Bezerra
Family Doctor
Dr. Bezerra possesses a medical degree and specializes in family medicine. She is licensed to practice under CRM-CE licence #16976.