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Groin pain or swelling

4-minute read

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

What are 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 or inflamed area 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.

How does a groin injury or groin strain happen?

The groin can be hurt when muscles, tendons and ligaments in the area are over-stretched, over-used, or 'pulled' (strained). Occasionally, nerve damage in the lower back can cause groin pain.

Groin injuries usually get better by themselves, but this might take several weeks. Treatment may involve self-care (such as rest and applying ice packs) and seeing a physiotherapist.

What is a hernia?

A hernia is when internal tissues push their way through a weak spot in the muscle wall of the abdomen (stomach). This results in a bulge under the skin and sometimes a feeling of discomfort.

The bulge might come and go or be there all the time. The bulge can often appear with energetic activity or heavy lifting.

A hernia that becomes painful needs urgent medical attention, especially when there is also abdominal pain, vomiting and constipation.

See your doctor if you think you have a hernia.

What are some other causes of groin pain or swelling?

Sometimes groin pain is caused by something else. It could be a:

Sudden, severe pain and swelling in the scrotum can be due to testicular torsion. If you have these symptoms, you should go to a hospital emergency department immediately.

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 in your abdomen

Go to the emergency department if you have:

  • severe pain (and swelling) in your testicles that happens very quickly
  • groin pain plus fever or blood in your urine
  • a painful groin swelling plus nausea and vomiting

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Sexual health and lower body Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

Looking after yourself

  • You should avoid bending and particularly lifting things 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 ease discomfort and relieve swelling but should not be placed directly on 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 from your doctor or pharmacist on medicines you can take.

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

Last reviewed: May 2022


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