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Causes of Groin Pain: Inner Thigh Radiating Pain is a Sign of a Deeper Condition

Nov 24, 2009

Groin pain can be the result of a host of medical conditions—from a pulled muscle and hernia to a pelvis stress fracture and spinal disc disease. But more times than not, it’s a sign of a problem in which few people make the connection—osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis of the hip; in other words, it’s the result of a breakdown of cartilage in the hip joint. 

“Osteoarthritis usually develops as we age, with symptoms commonly presenting in the groin area and pain radiating down the inner thigh and even the buttocks,” said Henry Finn, M.D., chief of orthopedic surgery at Weiss Memorial Hospital, medical director of the University of Chicago Bone & Joint Replacement Center at Weiss, and professor of surgery at the University of Chicago. “People initially don’t think their hip joint is the cause of their groin pain because it’s 'referred pain,' meaning it’s distant from its source; but there’s a definite link.”

Weiss Memorial Hospital has these healthful hints to determine if you’re experiencing this common form of groin pain and to understand how to treat it:

  • Test your hip flexibility. Lie on your back and move your leg, with a bended knee, in a circular motion. See how far you can extend your hip flexor muscles before feeling pain. If limited movement is possible, a deteriorating hip joint is likely the culprit.
  • See the severity. An X-ray of the hip area will determine just how serious the osteoarthritis is. Depending on the degree of cartilage deterioration, a number of treatment options are available to alleviate the pain.
  • Reduce inflammation. The first course of treatment for osteoarthristis is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. For more severe cases, consider a corticosteroid injection in the hip, which requires sedation for the needle-guided, fluoroscopic X-ray-controlled procedure. Pain relief lasts for about one year before another injection is needed.
  • Consider surgery. If little cartilage remains in the hip joint, a total hip replacement is advised. Consult an orthopedic surgeon who performs less invasive techniques, high-demand bearings and uncemented technology for the best results when indicated. Groin pain relief is almost immediate and the joint implant will likely last for many years.

It’s best to see your doctor to conclude the exact reason and remedy for your groin pain.