Adductor-related groin pain is an umbrella term that encompasses acute and chronic groin pain associated with the adductor muscle group. Acute injuries of the adductor muscles include strains and sprains. These are often easier to diagnose as they may be associated with a sudden onset of pain, particularly when related to sports specific movements such as rapid acceleration, deceleration, change of direction, or kicking. Effective treatment of acute adductor injuries will successfully offload the injured tissue before commencing a rehabilitation program to remedy deficits in strength and/or control around the pelvis and hips. Chronic adductor-related groin pain refers more to ‘overuse’ type syndromes such as tendinopathy of the adductor tendons. Chronic adductor-related groin pain is more complex to treat, and requires a deeper understanding of the spine, pelvis and hip complexes, due to a large number of muscles and joints that co-exist around this part of the body.
To understand adductor-related groin pain, it is important to understand the basic anatomy and function of this muscle group. The adductor muscles are composed of the short (adductor longus, adductor brevis and pectineus) and long adductors (adductor magnus and gracilis). The adductors run from the pelvis/groin to various attachments on the inside of the thigh bone and lower leg. Thus, their primary function when contracting is to bring the leg closer to the midline and to assist in the stabilisation of the pelvis and hips during movement.
What causes adductor-related groin pain?
Acute adductor strains will often be associated with a feeling of tearing or popping during high speed or high force activities. Examples include rapidly changing direction while playing sport, or kicking a ball with maximum force. If demand on the adductor muscles during these tasks exceeds the capacity of the muscle or tendon to absorb it, a strain may occur. In contrast, more chronic injuries tend to develop as a result of a repetitive and continued overload of the adductors. This may be due to increasing training loads to quickly (for example when ramping up during the pre-season for football) or due to a specific imbalance of muscle strength around the pelvis and hip. As mentioned previously, there are numerous muscles that function to provide movement and stabilisation of the hip during sport and day to day activities. Underloading or overloading of these muscles can result in chronic strain and for this reason it is important to have the area thoroughly assessed by your Physiotherapist to ensure the right treatment is provided at the right time.
Physiotherapy treatment of adductor-related groin pain
Mobility of the adductor muscles refers to the ability of the muscle to stretch past its resting length. Muscles that are less intolerant to stretch may reduce the chance of sustaining acute adductor injury. Mobility can also refer to hip and pelvis motions, which your physiotherapist will help to determine are contributing factor to adductor-related groin pain.
Control, as it relates to adductor-related groin pain, refers to control of the hip joint, as well as the lumbo-pelvic (low back and pelvis) complex. Because the adductor muscles also contribute to the stability of the pelvis and hip, assessing for adequate control in these regions may help to guide treatment.
Muscle strength is very important in the treatment of adductor-related groin pain. The muscles of the hip are incredibly strong and are heavily involved in walking, running and playing sport. Strengthening of these muscles can help reduce the risk of injury and specific rehabilitation, as guided by your Physiotherapist, will be key to overcoming adductor-related groin pain.
In summary, adductor-related groin pain can be acute or chronic. In both cases getting a proper assessment from your Physiotherapist will be integral to help guide any treatment and ensure you are able to return to doing the things you love in the shortest possible time.
If you are suffering from groin pain, book in with your Physio for a thorough assessment using this link here. Once the cause has been identified, a plan can be designed specifically for you and get you back to doing what it is you love.