What is groin?
Groin is the area between your legs near your lower abdomen. This is the area where the abdomen ends and legs begin. To put it in a simpler way, the area around a man’s penis or a woman’s vagina is called the groin.
Typically an injury to the muscles in this area is a common cause of groin pain. It often feels like pulling or straining of muscles in this area. In this article, we will explore what can cause pain in groin, how is it diagnosed and how pain in groin area is treated.
Causes of pain in groin
Most common causes of pain in groin are:
- Injury in the groin area typically due to an accident or while playing a sport. Playing sports such as football, rugby, soccer etc can strain the groin muscles. Players are prone to injury to their body (including the groin area) in such contact sports.
- Inguinal hernia – A condition when the abdominal opening inside (called the inguinal canal) the body does not close properly on both or one side resulting in descending of tissues and intestines into the scrotal area or lower abdomen is called inguinal hernia. When the descent of intestines or tissues is mild, the person may not experience much pain or any symptom but with time, more tissue and intestines descend resulting in severe pain and inflammation.
- Kidney Stones – Depending on the type of food a person eats and consumption of fluids/liquids, different types of kidney stones form in his/her kidneys. They are the result of accumulation of certain minerals in the kidneys instead of getting flushed out through urine. Kidney stones can cause unbearable pain in lower back area and also in the groin area. The person may feel terrible pain when passing urine.
Causes of epididymitis
The most common cause of epididymitis is infection. It can either be an STD or normal infection of testicles. Most often sexually transmitted infections caused by Chlamydia or Gonorrhea cause epididymitis. Bacterium like E.Coli, mumps virus and very rarely tuberculosis can cause epididymitis.
In some cases, swelling and inflammation of epididymis can happen due to the flow of urine. (Instead of getting out through the urethra, if the urine flows into the tubes carrying semen (out of the body), it can reach epididymis and result in inflammation). Lifting of weights in wrong way, blockage of urethra, enlarged or infected prostate gland, injury to the groin can result in such scenario.
Other causes that can cause pain in the groin:
- Testicular inflammation/pain in testicles. The causes of testicular pain (pain in testicles) can range from a small infection to an injury that is caused during a surgery or an accident. At times, this testicular pain can radiate into the groin area resulting in pain in the groin area.
- Intestinal inflammation. Typically this refers to the inflammation of large intestine (bowel). This can be due to Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. One of the symptoms of intestinal inflammation is pain in groin.
- Enlarged lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are present near neck, underarms, in the groin and other parts of the body. Lymph nodes gets swollen and hurt when there is a severe infection in the body.
- Ovarian Cysts. In women, fluid filled sacs or pockets can grow in the ovary (ovaries) or on its (their) surface. Cysts usually grow because of hormonal imbalance, pregnancy, endometriosis or infection that spread to pelvis region. This can also cause pain in groin in women.
- Urinary Tract Infections. Urinary Tract Infections / UTI are common in women than men. This is due to the proximity of the urethral opening to the vaginal opening which can be the main source of transmitting microbes into the urethra. Urinary Tract Infection when spreads to the bladder and other parts in the pelvis region can result in pain in groin.
- Pinched nerves in the groin region and osteoarthritis of the hip can also cause groin pain.
Diagnosis of pain in groin
Pain in the groin due to small injury is fine. But the pain should not last for longer than few days and must not be associated with other symptoms such as fever or swelling. When you present yourself with pain in your groin area to a sexologist, your doctor will start with a physical examination. After that, you will asked to undergo certain tests including tests for STDs/STIs depending on your recent history.
- Test for hernia. A simple physical test where you will be asked to cough while your doctor is touching your scrotum. Coughing pushes the intestines into the inguinal canal and your experienced sexologist will be able to feel it.
- X ray and Ultrasound can show any infections or tumor growths in testicles or in the groin area. Your doctor can also suspect a break/fracture of bone in the pelvis region.
- Tests for STD or a test to see the complete blood picture. This can tell if your body is infected.
Treatment of pain in groin
Treatment for groin pain depends on the cause figured out by your doctor. If it is due to the trauma or injury in the groin area and if your doctor thinks that no big harm has happened to any of the organs in the area, he may put you on some pain killers.
If the groin pain is due to swelling of lymph nodes, right antibiotics will be prescribed depending in the infection. Remember, HIV can also cause swelling of lymph nodes long with rashes on your body and fever. Viral infections have no cure but only medicine to control the symptoms.
Inguinal hernia problem may need a surgery. Laparoscopic surgery for inguinal hernia is the most sought after treatment to close or tighten the inguinal canal.
Urinary Tract Infections will be treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines (when required) after knowing the type of microbe.
Pain in groin is common for people who are more involved in playing sports. Pain in groin should usually go away in a couple of days or maximum a week. If there is any swelling and/or fever associated with pain in groin area, don’t delay in seeing your doctor as that might indicate a serious problem that needs your doctor’s attention.