Dull ache in groin can be encountered in different settings, and a common condition experienced by people. The causes attributed to dull ache in groin usually are benign but should not be overlooked and medical care should preferably be sought to avoid any serious damage and complications.
The area where inner thigh meets or intersects the torso/body is called the Groin/Inguinal area. There are a number of common causes for dull ache in groin in men and women, some of which are due to some chronic disease or any direct or indirect injury.
The most common cause of dull ache in groin are muscular because these muscles usually take up the physical work and stress during an activity and are thus vulnerable to pulls and strains, although there are a number of associated structures like nerves, blood vessels, bones etc. in the area that can also result into dull ache in groin.
There a number of other causes which are specific to male and female dull ache in groin and can be diagnosed on particular history and examination.
To know more about dull ache in groin, continue reading the article and get the relief which you deserve:
Common cause of dull ache in groin in adults
Lumbar discopathy or sciatica: Most common cause of dull ache in groin can be attributed to Disc herniation in the L4-L5 region that can compress the nerve root of sciatic nerve and cause dull ache in groin particularly in older adults.
Piriformis syndrome: this muscle is located in the buttock and its spasm can evidently lead to pain that also results in dull ache in groin. In this syndrome there might be some compression of sciatic nerve which results in pain as well.
Osteoarthritis of hip: This is a condition when the cartilage of the hip joint wears away with time and results in pain and unusual signs and symptoms along with grinding sensation and pain in front and back of hip along with dull ache in groin.
Infections like brucellosis and tuberculosis: Both of these diseases have systemic manifestations and involves bones, muscles, joints and can result in dull ache in groin as well.
Aseptic arthritis and reactive arthritis: causes inflammation of the joint by one or the other means nd results in dull ache in the groin.
Groin strain/ Groin pull: Less intense pull/strain in the groin area associated structures like ligament, tendon or muscle can cause dull ache in groin in both athletes and non-athletes which may be usually sharp in athletes because of heavy sports injury usually but can be mild as well and in non-athletes usually who put a sudden stress or any heavy physical activity in their routine.
Inguinal hernia: Inguinal hernia is the protrusion of fatty tissue or part of intestines through a weak abdominal wall or torn abdominal wall and may be asymptomatic or causes dull ache in groin. Dull ache in groin can be felt when a person coughs or may be lifts any object and in fact a bulge can be felt and seen in the inguinal area. Inguinal hernias are more commonly seen in men.
A hidden or non-palpable hernia may be present in women which may need laparoscopic intervention.
Enlarged lymph nodes: Lymph nodes form a network all over the body with lymphatic vessels and form a lymphatic system and work efficiently to drain waste and transport nutrients. Any infection or injury can lead to swelling and pain in the surrounding lymph nodes and some tumors may even do the same but rarely. This enlargement tends to produce dull ache in groin where the enlarged nodes are typically seen.
Treatment can be done typically by treating the underlying condition and thus relieving the patient. Treating the lymph edema by some expert physical therapist can also help in resolving the issue.
Hip osteonecrosis: Necrosis happens when there is lack of blood supply to any organ. When bone cells in hip joint die due to lack of blood supply it gradually deteriorates and collapses. Pain is felt in the groin and is throbbing and can be as dull ache in the groin.
Its progression can lead to severe difficulties in walking and weight lifting.
Some less common causes in males and females
Osteitis Pubis: The area of conjunction between two pelvic bones when gets inflamed is called as Osteitis pubis and happens when there is overuse of structures around by activities like running, kicking, sit-ups etc. All of it causes dull ache in groin along with lower abdominal pain. The pain can intensify if the condition progresses but starts gradually as dull ache in groin and thus can be controlled by limiting activities and stressful work outs.
Over the counter drugs (OTC), modifying the activities and icing can definitely help to relieve the pain in a course of several months.
Pinched nerve: The condition is called as Lumbar radiculopathy, as is found usually in the lower spinal area and created when there is nerve entrapment in the groin area and leads to dull ache in groin with some tingling and numb sensation. Lateral cutaneous nerve may be involved and may involve people with diabetes, overweight or pregnant women or any injury and even tight- fitting clothes.
Symptoms can be resolved by lifestyle modifications like losing weight and not wearing tight clothes and in some cases physical therapy and injections of cortisone may help when the pain persists and is exacerbated.
Hip bursitis: Bursa around may be the structures like tendon, bone cushions the surfaces near the joints. Any inflammation due to any reason like infection, wear and tear and trauma cause a dull ache in the region and is called as Bursitis. Bursitis may involve the areas of most activity and hip joint is one of the. There is dull ache in the groin and usually goes away few weeks with proper treatment.
Some risk factors like age, occupation and underlying medical conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk of bursitis.
You definitely need to see a doctor if the pain is sharp with associated symptoms like fever or excess swelling and redness.
Less common causes of dull ache in groin in males
Any condition related to nerves, abdomen, pelvis, testes, can less commonly causes dull ache in groin in males.
- Hydrocele: Hydrocele is defined as the collection of fluid in a thin sheath surrounding the scrotum and is a kind of swelling and is common in new born which gets resolved within a year. In older adults hydrocele is caused due to injury and infection and can cause dull ache in groin.
This doesn’t need any treatment usually but if it’s painful and has prominent swelling consult the doctor.
- Testicular cancer: Testes are located in the scrotum and produces male sex hormones and is a rare type of cancer. There is a dull ache in groin associated with lump, heaviness and is usually unilateral.
Less common causes of dull ache in groin in females
Any condition related to nerves, abdomen, pelvis, ovaries can less commonly causes dull ache in groin in females.
- Ovarian cysts: These are fluid filled tiny sacs located on the ovaries which can cause sharp constant pain in the groin as well as lower abdomen. Cysts normally do not cause any symptoms and may even resolve by themselves.
- Irregular menstruation
Even in cases where the cyst is persistent or of a particular size surgery will be necessary.
Diagnosis always has to start with a basic history and physical examination. Like the time of onset of pain, alleviating and aggravating factors, history of some mild trauma, history of medication, and past surgical and medical history and any family history can definitely be the key to the diagnosis.
Physical examination of abdomen, pelvis, musculoskeletal system alongside some maneuvers like rotation, flexion etc. known as FABER (flexion, abduction, external rotation) also known as Patrick’s test.
Imaging like X-ray forms the basis of diagnosis as imaging and can help in examining the structure of bones in case of trauma.
Ultrasonography can also be definitely helpful in diagnosing. MRIs and Ct scans can be also used in evaluating pelvic organs.
Treatment and Prevention
There a number of ways to start the treatment once the diagnosis is made, which involves lifestyle modifications, medications, physical therapy and surgery at times.
In case of groin strain, NSAIDs can be used to relieve the pain. Also a rest of certain period of time along with physical therapy, icing, heat, support and restricting activities might be needed that may aggravate the condition otherwise and weight loss can be of some help too.
Prevention has always been better than cure. There are many ways to prevent the above mentioned conditions like: maintaining healthy weights, less engagement in sports that stretch or put a strain on hip region especially pain in groin, controlling underlying diseases, and definitely exercises for strengthening bones and muscles.
When to see a doctor
Every groin pain has its unique cause and seeing a doctor is important for better evaluation when home remedies do not work.
Whenever groin pain is associated with symptoms those that appear life-threatening like severe pain in abdomen, chest and chest; redness and warmth in the groin area, difficult walking and no weight bearing movements and nausea, vomiting, severe testicular pain may warrant to seek emergency help.
Groin pain can be definitely overwhelming and frustrating but as the treatment has evolved and there are a number of steps that can alleviate the symptoms with a lot of home remedies. Whenever there are alarming symptoms as discussed above and do not overlook the unusual symptoms and seek medical attention to avoid any serious complications and damage. Doctor will do a thorough examination and will help you get rid of your pain.