What you might be feeling
You will have pain or tenderness either along the inner side of your thigh or in the groin area. You will have pain when you bring your legs together, and you may also have pain when lifting your knee. It may be painful to walk or run and there may be bruising in the groin area.
- Pain in the groin area is not always associated with a strain of the adductor muscles.
- Other sources of pain in the groin area include lumbar spine, sacroiliac joint, hip joint and nerve pathology.
- It is important that any pain in the groin area is thoroughly investigated to establish the cause.
What’s really going on inside
A groin injury is a layman’s term for a muscle strain of the adductor muscles. A strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon. The muscles in your groin help bring your legs together. There are two muscles that may commonly get injured in a groin strain: the adductor magnus (the muscle running down the inner side of the thigh), and the sartorius (a thinner muscle that starts on the outside of your hip, crosses your thigh, and attaches near the inside of the knee).
What are the adductor Muscles?
They are a group of muscles located on the inside of the thigh. These muscles are commonly injured in sports that involve sudden changes in direction (i.e. soccer and rugby). As with all muscle injuries the adductor muscle injuries can be classified as a Grade 1, a Grade 2 or a Grade 3 injury.
Grade 1 adductor muscle strain involves damage to a small number of fibres, causing localised pain but no loss of strength.
Grade 2 injury is a tear of a significant number of muscle fibres causing pain, swelling, and loss of movement and strength.
Grade 3 injury is a complete rupture of the muscles.
How a physio can help
In the first 48 to 72 hours following a muscle injury it is important to follow the first aid principles of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (R.I.C.E.). Following these principles is crucial to limiting the bleeding and swelling associated with muscle injuries.
Physiotherapy management following an adductor muscle strain aims to promote tissue healing, restore movement, maintain or improve pelvic stability, restore muscle balance, prevent further injury, and aid in the return to sport.
Electrotherapy is used to promote tissue healing and help with pain relief.
Massage is used to promote effective scar formation and reduce muscles spasm associated with pain.
Exercises to stretch and strengthen the adductor muscles are an important element of rehabilitation. Without sufficient strength and flexibility the muscles will be prone to re-injury.
- The adductor muscles tend to overwork in the presence of poor pelvic stability. As a result your physiotherapist may prescribe pelvic stability exercises to reduce the stresses placed of the adductor muscles.
- Your physiotherapist will advise you on exercises that you can perform to maintain your cardiovascular fitness while you are injured.
Bracing – Groin straps are an effective way of altering the stresses through the adductor muscles to reduce the risk of recurrent injury.
Return to sport
The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your sport or activity as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage. Everyone recovers from injury at a different rate. Return to your activity will be determined by how soon your groin area recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury occurred. In general, the longer that you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take you to get better.
A staged return to sports and sports specific drills are effective ways of gradually increasing the stresses placed on the adductor muscles.