What Is Inguinal Pain?
Table of Contents
The inguinal area is commonly referred to as the groin region. It includes:
- Your genital region
- The lower portion of your abdomen
- Upper thighs
- Front portion of the leg where it meets the torso
The inguinal region is quite prone to injury, particularly among populations of athletes. Those who are at highest risk for this type of pain include those who participate in sports that involve:
- Sudden direction changes
- Rapid acceleration and deceleration
The most common sports that can lead to inguinal pain include football, hockey, and rugby. Currently, there is very little known about the true incidence rate of inguinal injury and pain within the general population. Among athletes, incidence rates of inguinal injury and pain have been estimated to be as high as between 30 and 40%.
Inguinal pain symptoms
Inguinal pain refers to symptoms of pain or discomfort within the lower abdomen and the area where your legs are joined to the torso. For males, in particular, inguinal pain may also radiate to or from the testicles or scrotum.
Symptoms of inguinal pain may also include:
- Redness or swelling within the groin region
- Sensitivity to touch
- An observable bulge in the area, if patients are also suffering from an underlying hernia
Inguinal pain symptoms may have an acute onset and occur immediately following an injury or trauma. For others, they may experience an onset of more gradual pain over time.
Inguinal Pain CausesIf you’re suffering from inguinal pain, there are a number of common causes. Pay close attention to your symptoms. Note when, where, and how you’re feeling your pain. This can help your doctor diagnose the cause of your pain.
These are the major inguinal pain causes:
- Injuries and strains
- Urinary tract infection
- Female and male genital issues, as discussed below
- Skin infection
- Kidney stones, particularly when the stone is passing through the ureter
- Nerve entrapment
- Irritation or inflammation of the small or large intestine
- Enlarged lymph glands
Injuries and strains
One of the most common causes of inguinal pain is injury or strain to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that comprise this area. These injuries occur more frequently among athletes. Injury or other problems within the hip joint can also lead to symptoms of inguinal pain.
Another highly prevalent condition that has been associated with pain and discomfort within the inguinal region occurs when an internal structure, such as an organ or other soft tissue, protrudes through a weak area of the abdominal wall. This is what is known as a hernia.
Causes of inguinal pain in women
Women may experience inguinal pain from:
- Menstruation or menopause symptoms
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Ovarian cysts or other conditions affecting the ovaries
- Cervical cancer
- Uterine cancer
Causes of inguinal pain in men
Men may experience inguinal pain from:
- Irritation and inflammation of the epididymis (the small tube connecting the testicle to the vas deferens), testicle, or other nearby internal structures
- Rotation of the testicle that results in a twisting of the spermatic cord and leads to reduced blood flow to the testicles (also known as testicular torsion)
- Prostate infection
- Testicular tumor
Getting An Inguinal Pain DiagnosisIf you’re suffering from pain in your groin or upper thighs, talk to a doctor.
Your doctor will start their diagnosis by physically examining the area. It is also not uncommon for a physician to request a urine analysis to examine for possible urologic conditions.
They may also employ imaging techniques. For example, a series of hip X-rays can help look for possible joint or bone abnormalities. If found, these may account for a patient’s symptoms of inguinal pain and discomfort. An ultrasound may be performed on the area, as well. This can assess for the presence of an underlying hernia in instances where there are no obvious external signs of a hernia defect.
Finally, your physician may use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI allows your physician to assess for abnormalities, injury, or inflammation of the various soft tissue structures within the inguinal region.
Treatments For Inguinal PainThere are a wide variety of conditions that may lead to pain and discomfort within the inguinal region. Your physician will determine which treatment options are appropriate given your diagnosis.
At-home or non-invasive therapies
In most cases of inguinal pain, patients are able to successfully treat their symptoms on their own using conservative, at-home treatment methods. These treatments include:
- Ice therapy
- Temporary immobilization of the area by using a brace
- Over-the-counter oral analgesic medications to manage flare-ups of pain
Patients who suffer from ligament, tendon, or muscle strain or injury may undergo physical therapy. This can help correct any imbalances and strengthen your muscles to prevent further injury.
Inguinal pain treatments for moderate to severe pain
Patients suffering from moderate to severe inguinal pain that prevents them from completing normal day-to-day activities may require more aggressive forms of pain management. In rare cases, patients with inguinal pain will require surgery in order to address an underlying injury or cause of pain.
In some cases, steroids may be prescribed in order to reduce inflammation of the area and provide pain relief. Steroids and other anti-inflammatory medications may actually prevent the natural healing process of the soft tissue, as well as promote further degeneration. Because of this, it’s important to use them in combination with other therapies, like physical therapy. Always talk to your doctor about the appropriate treatment for your inguinal pain.
For instances of inguinal pain caused by neural entrapment, your doctor may recommend a nerve block. Nerve blocks may be very beneficial for providing pain and symptom relief. This technique involves interfering with the transmission of the pain signals from the peripheral nervous system to the spinal cord and brain.
ConclusionSymptoms of inguinal pain, also known as groin pain, are quite common. This type of pain occurs most frequently in athletes. If you’re suffering from this type of pain, you’re likely experiencing it in the lower abdomen, groin, and it may radiate to the upper portion of your leg where it joins with the torso. Injuries to the soft tissue or bone within the groin area most often lead to pain. However, there are a wide variety of conditions that may be the source of your pain symptoms.
How you treat your pain will depend on the underlying cause of it. Some common methods, like stretching or rest, may actually impede the normal healing process. Because of this, it’s important that you always talk to your doctor. They’ll help you make the best choice in terms of treating your pain.
If you’re suffering from severe pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments, it may be time to talk to a pain specialist. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.
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