In addition to pain, a groin injury causes problems with lateral movement, speed, and the ability to put power behind a kick. Without proper rest and rehabilitation, the athlete risks sustaining further tissue damage or a torn tendon.
Athletes who participate in cutting sports such as soccer are at risk of developing hip and groin injuries. The most common groin injury is a strain of the hip adductor tendon. It commonly presents as an acute injury, but it frequently has a chronic component that is progressively weakening the tendon. Risk factors include poor technique and overuse without appropriate rest between games or practices.
An athlete with an adductor strain will often complain of sharp, stinging pain in the groin area that can shoot down the thigh. When examined, athletes will often have tenderness over the groin muscles and tendons, especially close to the pelvic bone. Pain is usually worse when the leg is moved toward the opposite leg and the hip is flexed. Athletes generally have problems with lateral movements, report tightness in the groin, and are unable to sprint at maximum speed or kick the ball long distances.
In severe cases, the athlete feels a pop at the time of injury and develops bruising and swelling at the inner thigh. In addition, the weakness leads to walking with a limp.
Between two to four weeks after the injury, patients report interval improvement in the tenderness, but they typically continue having pain with activities and weakness. Nonstop sports participation without proper rehabilitation frequently causes chronic pain and puts the athlete at risk of sustaining a tendon tear.
Early recognition and treatment usually lead to successful outcomes and complete recovery. Initially, the treatments of choice include rest, ice, compression with an elastic bandage, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to decrease swelling and inflammation. Athletes with acute groin strains are requested to stop playing to avoid further tissue damage.
If the symptoms continue for more than three days, it is recommended to seek further evaluation by a sports medicine physician. In most cases, the athlete will be referred to a licensed physical therapist for four to six weeks to restore proper flexibility and strength, correct biomechanical deficits that may have led to the injury, and help the athlete return to sports stronger and healthier. In severe cases, surgical options may be considered.