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Pain in the Upper Thigh and Groin Area That Hurts and Has Spread to the Legs

author image Emma Cale
Emma Cale has been writing professionally since 2000. Her work has appeared in “NOW Magazine,” “HOUR Magazine” and the “Globe and Mail.” Cale holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Windsor and advanced writing certificates from the Canadian Film Centre and the National Theatre School of Canada.
Pain in the Upper Thigh and Groin Area That Hurts and Has Spread to the Legs
A groin pull is a complex injury.

Active people may encounter groin strains or hip injuries as a result of certain high-intensity sports such as hockey or squash, although these injuries can occur during any activity, from running to Pilates. Pain in the groin area that radiates through the upper thigh and into the legs, however, may indicate a more serious sports hernia, which may require surgery.

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Groin Pull

A network of five adductor muscles exists in the groin region: the pectineus, adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus and the gracilis. These muscles factor significantly in walking, sprinting, football, soccer and any other sport that demands quick directional shifts, according to the online sport injury resource Sport Injury Clinic. Groin pull symptoms include moderate to severe pain in the groin and inner thigh area, swelling, bruising, and inability to squeeze the legs together. A minor grade one strain typically involves less than 10 per cent of the adductor muscle fibers and responds to rest, ice, compression and elevation treatment. Grades two and three strains require more intense rehabilitation, and in some cases, surgery.

Hip Bursitis

Bursae are small gel-filled sacs that function as cushions between bones, tendons and ligaments in the joints. Hip bursitis transpires when these bursae become inflamed, often due to repetitive stress through sports such as running, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The iliopsoas bursa resides on the inside of the hip joint, so symptoms occur on the groin side of the hip and inner thigh. Hip bursitis typically responds well to ibuprofen and rest, although in some rare cases surgery to remove the afflicted bursa will be recommended.

Sports Hernia

According to Michael Sampson, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, sports hernias are often misdiagnosed as groin pulls. A sports hernia results when a portion of the intestine bulges through a weakened section of the abdominal wall near the groin, according to InteliHealth. Symptoms initially manifest as pressure in the groin which eventually graduates to intense pain that spreads through the groin region and encompasses the hip. Sports hernias often require surgery.


One of the simplest methods available to prevent groin injuries remains an adequate warm up. Before engaging in sporting activities or exercise of any sort, spend 5 to 10 minutes heating up your muscles to prepare them for exercise. Increased blood flow especially to the large working muscles of the legs helps these muscles move more easily through their full range of motion, thus reducing the risk of injury, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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