What is a Groin Injury?

It is often heard, especially in the ranks of football and soccer players, that an athlete has gone out with a groin injury. It’s vague and nondescript, but non-the-less, very common. One of the most recent players to have fallen victim to a groin injury is Chicago Bear’s quarterback Jay Cutler.

While Groin injuries occur predominately in Football and Soccer players, they also account for nearly 15% of all hockey-related injuries. Groin injuries are often sustained in athletes that engage in a considerable amount or running, jumping and cutting. A rapid change in momentum or a sudden movement of the lower extremity can result in the groin or thigh being over-stretched or torn.

Groin injuries can involve one, or up to all of the five, of the adductor muscles. The pectineus, adductor brevis and adductor longus muscles, which connect the pelvis to the thigh bone as well as the gracilis and adductor magnus muscles, which connect the pelvis to the knee, make up the area that is commonly referred to as the groin. The primary function of the adductors group of muscles is to pull the legs toward the midline. During the motion of routine walking, they also contribute to the maintenance of balance. 

Groin Injury Classification

  • A 1st degree groin injury results in minimal loss of strength or movement and often only results in mild tightness to the area. Less than 10% of the muscle fibers are typically affected.
  • A 2nd degree groin injury produces some moderate tissue damage (10% – 90% fiber damage) and results in minimal to moderate levels of pain.
  • A 3rd degree, and most severe groin injury, results in a partial or complete tear of the muscle/s and results in moderate to severe pain, swelling and bruising and loss of function.


Treatment of a Groin Injury

Treatment is dependent on the severity of the injury, though the first line treatment is always R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Sports injury specialists also often employ ultrasound and laser treatment, taping of the groin, sports massage and operative repair, for the most significant groin injuries. Subsequent long-term physical therapy and rehabilitation may be required in the most severe cases.