What is footballer's groin?

By Juniors Editor on

Groin pain is a common sporting injury in high speed running, change of direction or jumping and landing sports. Guess what activities footballers require? Hence, groin pain in footballers is in the top four of regions injured.

Your groin musculature is complicated with highly stressed anchor points and the involvement of pelvis joints plus your lower spine. Footballer’s groin encompasses a group of groin injuries common in footballers. Interestingly, footballer's groin is a common reason for footballers to retire from playing. Yet, this may not need be the case if you seek early diagnosis and treatment.

Let’s quickly run through some of the common footballer's groin causes.

Common sources of footballer's groin

Muscle control is a vital component of the rehabilitation and prevention of groin pain. Your d​eep abdominal core muscles,​ deep hip rotators, gluteals, adductors and lower back muscles all work together to control your lower limb on you pelvis and pelvis on your spine. Any muscle imbalance or inco­-ordination can lead to groin pain. The most common groin muscle injury is an adductor muscle strain commonly referred to as a ​groin strain.​ Hip flexor strains are also common especially in kicking and r​unning​ sports. Hence, simply playing football is a risk ­factor.

These injuries can cause a ​tendinopathy ​such as a​dductor tendinopathy,​ which is the most common cause of upper groin pain. It’s also a good stage to stop your condition progressing into bone injuries or any involvement of the inguinal canal and the hernias associated. Your inguinal wall can be overstressed and result in conditions such as an inguinal hernia or sportsman's hernia. Gilmore’s groin is a famous condition found in footballers that combines injury to several groin structures simultaneously. Surgery is the only long­-term option here, so early diagnosis is the key.

The joints most likely involved in groin pain include your pubic symphysis, sacroiliac joints, hip joints and your low lumbar spine. One example of excessive stress occurring through your pubic symphysis (where your pelvis bones meet at the front) is osteitis pubis.​

Hip joint injuries can also cause groin pain with femoroacetabular impingement ​(FAI) commonly reported. This is a hip bone impact condition that requires careful management to avoid surgery. ​Hip labral tears​ in the younger playing group can also cause deep groin pain and may predispose you to earlier onset hip arthritis, ​which isn’t ideal. Stress fracture​ can also occur affecting either your pelvis or femur and needs to be quickly diagnosed to avoid a long period on the sidelines.

Lastly, we can’t forget about other conditions you may potentially have travelling through your body at the same time you are playing football. These include: rheumatoid arthritis,​ ankylosing spondylitis,​ psoriatic arthritis ​and osteoarthritis.​ This is another reason why you should have your groin pain assessed by a knowledgeable health practitioner who commonly deals in groin pain, especially in footballers.

For more specific advice about groin pain, its cause and how you can rehabilitate it, please consult your physiotherapist or a sports physician with a special interest in groin injuries.

Common sources of groin pain

A recent literature review discovered 33 different diagnostic terms for common sources of groin pain in athletes. No wonder groin pain is all too commonly misdiagnosed and mistreated!

Let's look at some of the most common sources of groin pain depending on their structure.

Adductor­-related groin pain

Pubic­-related groin pain

Hip-­related groin pain

Inguinal-­related groin pain

  • Inguinal hernia
  • Sportsman's hernia

Iliopsoas­-related groin pain

  • Hip flexor strain

Other muscle­-related groin pain

Systemic diseases

Referred sources

As you can see, these are just a few of the common groin injury sources, so an accurate diagnosis is very important to provide you with the best rehabilitation.

If you are suffering groin pain, we highly recommend that you seek the professional help of a practitioner who is experienced in the assessment and management of groin pain. It can be very tricky! You wouldn't want to undergo a hip replacement early in life due to mismanagement of your g​roin pain.​

Groin pain assessment

Your physiotherapist is an expert at the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic and biomechanical related injuries affecting your groin.

For a thorough assessment and the quickest relief from your groin pain, please contact your physiotherapist.

Groin pain treatment

With accurate assessment and early treatment, most groin pain responds extremely quickly to physiotherapy allowing you to quickly resume pain­free and normal activities of daily living.

Please ask your physiotherapist for their professional treatment advice. More info.

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