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Groin pain or swelling

3-minute read

The most common causes of groin pain or swelling are swollen glands, an injury or a hernia. If it is very painful and it doesn’t improve in a few days, you should see your doctor.

Swollen glands

Swollen glands or lymph nodes usually mean you’re fighting an infection. If the glands in your groin are swollen, you might have an infection in your leg. Swollen glands usually get better by themselves, but if they don’t go away or you are in discomfort, see your doctor.

Groin injury

The groin can be injured when the muscles, tendons and ligaments attached to the groin are over-stretched, over-used, or ‘pulled’ (strained). Occasionally groin pain is the result of nerve injuries in the lower-back. Groin injuries usually get better by themselves, but this might take several weeks.

Hernia

A hernia is when a piece of internal tissue or internal organ which is normally held in place by muscles, manages to push its way through the muscle that make up the wall of the abdomen. Hernias can appear in the abdomen or groin and are usually brought about by strenuous activity or heavy lifting. This results in a bulge under the skin and possibly pain. This bulge might come and go or be there all the time. See your doctor if you think you have a hernia.

Other causes of groin pain or swelling

Sometimes groin pain is caused by something else. It could be a bone injury or fracture, kidney stones, a problem with the testicles, a pinched nerve or sciatica.

When to see a doctor

Most groin pain will go away by itself. But see a doctor if:

  • you have very severe pain
  • the pain doesn’t improve in a few days
  • you have pain in the testicles that lasts for longer than a few days
  • there’s a lump or swelling in a testicle
  • you have pain your abdomen
  • there’s blood in the urine

Go to the emergency department if you have pain in your testicles that comes on very quickly and you also have nausea, vomiting, fever or blood in the urine.

Looking after yourself

  • you should avoid any bending and particularly lifting until you see your doctor
  • avoid any activity that may be causing the pain or swelling, or that makes the symptoms reappear
  • you should also avoid any strenuous activity for at least 2 to 3 days after your symptoms have gone
  • an ice pack may help relieve swelling but should not be placed directly against the skin. It should be wrapped in a clean cloth to avoid burning the skin. Ice packs can be re-applied every 2 to 3 hours but do not leave them on the skin for more than 20 minutes at a time
  • avoid wearing any tight clothing around the painful or swollen area
  • if you are in pain, get advice on medicines you can take

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your groin pain or swelling, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2019


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