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A groin pull is an injury to the muscles of the inner thigh. The condition is also known as groin pain, groin strain, groin pull injury or adductor strain. This common injury usually affects athletes and especially people involved in sports like soccer, basketball, football, hockey, track and field and racquet sports. People in sports that involve kicking, twisting and turning are at the highest risk of having a groin pull injury.

Symptoms of groin pull

The groin is the junction between the lower limbs and the torso. Groin pain occurs when the muscles of the inner thigh are stretched beyond their limits. When this over-stretching occurs, the small muscle tears cause pain and swelling. In more severe injuries, a groin pull involves a complete rupture of the muscles. A groin pull is usually recognized by a sudden sharp pain in the groin area which causes one to stop or slow down the movement.

A pulled groin muscle usually refers to a painful injury sustained by straining the hip adductor muscles. These muscles are located on the inside of the thigh, and help to bring the legs together. Adductor muscles consist of the adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, gracilis and pectineus. Adductor Longus is most susceptible to injury, and especially at the point at which the muscle and the tendon attach to the femur (thigh) bone.

Causes of groin pull

The adductor muscles serve to move the thigh toward the centerline of the body and also to help control and limit the movements. The groin pull often occurs due to a variety of factors. Vigorous physical exercise can put a lot of strain on the adductors, making them more irritated. Adequate warm-up is also required to prepare the nervous system to control the adductors in an optimal way. When the warm-up prior the exercise is inadequate, movements may add too much pressure on the adductors, leading to an injury.

Sudden and dynamic movements, such as changing the direction vigorously, for example, may cause the damage to the muscles. Inadequate techniques, such as poor mechanic while lifting heavy objects, may put a lot of strain on the adductor muscles, and result in an injury.

Prevention and treatment

Groin pull is relatively easy to prevent by practicing a thorough warm-up and physical conditioning. The correct warm-up will prepare the muscles and tendons for vigorous physical activity. Physical conditioning is very important in order to keep the muscles and tendons flexible and supple.

Treatment should start right after the injury, using the R.I.C.E. treatment. This acronym stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, and it is best used as a first aid measure that can relieve the pain, limit the swelling and protect the injured tissues, all of which help speed up the healing. The patient should avoid physical activities for the first one to two weeks and then slowly come back to regular activities.

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