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Groin strain (groin pull)

A groin strain is a common injury for footballers and rugby players. A groin strain happens when you overstretch or tear an adductor muscle around the groin. This can often be from running, jumping or a sudden change in direction.

soccer player kicking ball

Using an ice pack or bag of frozen veg wrapped in a towel can help reduce swelling from a groin strain. It is an injury that needs rest to heal, even if that means missing a match or athletics meeting.

What does a groin strain feel like?

Symptoms of a groin strain include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the groin and the inside of the thigh
  • Pain when you bring your legs together
  • Pain when you raise your knee
  • A popping or snapping feeling during the injury, followed by severe pain

Groin strains are often divided into three degrees of severity:

  • 1st degree - pain, but little loss of strength or movement.
  • 2nd degree - pain and some tissue damage.
  • 3rd degree - pain, loss of function, and a complete tear of the muscle

To diagnose a groin strain, your doctor will give you a thorough physical examination. Tests like X-rays and MRI scans may be needed to rule out other problems.

What's the treatment for a groin strain?

Fortunately, a groin strain will usually heal on its own. You just need to give it some time and rest. To speed the healing, you can:

  • Ice the inside of your thigh to reduce pain and swelling. Experts recommend doing it for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days, or until the pain is gone
  • Compress your thigh using an elastic bandage or tape
  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers . Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs will help with pain and swelling. However, these drugs can have side effects. So they should be used only occasionally, unless your doctor specifically says otherwise
  • Practise stretching and strengthening exercises if your doctor recommends them

Most of the time these conservative treatments will do the trick, but not always. If these techniques still haven't helped after six months, you may want to think about surgery. While surgery may give you relief, it's a last resort. Not everyone can return to their previous level of activity afterwards.

So talk over the pros and cons of surgery with your doctor. You should also consider getting a second opinion.

When will I feel better?

Everyone wants to know how quickly they can get back in shape - and how soon the pain will go away - but there's no easy answer. Recovery time depends on how serious your groin strain is. It may take 4-6 weeks, but that's just a rough estimate. People heal at different rates.

In the meantime, switch to a new activity that won't put too much stress on your groin muscles. For instance, runners could try swimming.

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