Understanding and Managing Nerve Pain in the Groin 

Groin pain or nerve pain in the groin is an extraordinarily painful condition that can have a detrimental impact on your quality of life. You are not alone. In many cases, nerve pain in the groin will be the result of other conditions that are having an impact on your mobility. The pain could be caused by injury, inflammation, or recovery from surgery. Nerve pain specifically feels like a sharp and shooting pain and it is an intense pain that can be debilitating.

Nerve pain can be difficult if not impossible to treat using conventional methods. It may even require surgery. When you are treating nerve pain in the groin, you will need to understand the causes of groin nerve pain before exploring treatment options. Groin nerve pain does not have to interfere with your life. Learn more about what causes groin nerve pain and how to find relief here.

Anatomy of Groin Nerves

The groin is known as the inguinal region of the pelvic region in the human body. Groin nerve pain can impact both men and women, but is most commonly found in men. The inguinal area of the pelvis is found on the lower wall of the abdomen and into the inferior section of the thigh. This structure of the pelvis is tubular in nature and contains what is called the round ligament in women and the spermatic cord in men.

Along the floor of the inguinal section is the ligament called the inguinal or Poupart ligament. This ligament folds over most of the pelvic region and is a critical part that is worked on during hernia repairs. In this area of the body are three large nerves called the genitofemoral, ilioinguinal, and iliohypogastric nerves. These nerves will supply sensations to the skin in the pelvic region.

Damage to the iliohypogastric nerve will cause intense pain in the pelvic region. When the ilioinguinal nerve is compressed, the pain will appear along the perineum and in the upper thighs. Men will feel this pain in the scrotum while women will find it along their exterior vaginal walls. The genitofemoral nerves when compressed or damaged will impact the motor function of the upper thighs and anterior pelvic regions.

Having pain in the groin nerves is an extremely debilitating and painful experience. It can also be awkward, uncomfortable, and even embarrassing. It would be very difficult to walk or move if you are suffering from groin nerve compression. There are many different relief strategies for groin nerve discomfort, and identifying the cause of the nerve pain will be key in helping you to develop the best strategies for you.

a doctor explains nerve pain in the groin

Causes of Nerve Pain in the Groin

There are many different causes of nerve pain in the groin or causes of groin nerve compression. Any kind of injury to the groin could result in groin nerve compression. An injury such as a broken leg or a broken pelvis can result in groin nerve pain or nerve compression that causes pain. If there is an injury that causes swelling, this will also result in compression against the nerve.

Another common cause of groin nerve pain is wearing clothing that is too tight. Clothing such as a corset or a belt that is too tight can pinch or compress the nerves and result in groin nerve compression. Carrying too much weight on the body will cause the same pain. When your body has added pressure on your organs and tissues, pinched nerves could be the outcome.

In many cases of groin pain, another medical condition can cause pinched nerves. Pregnancy or diabetes can cause pinched or compressed nerves in many areas of the body, including the groin area. You will know if you have a pinched or compressed nerve because the pain is much different than with a wound or an inflammation injury. Any kind of swelling, even with pregnancy, can cause the nerves in the groin to become compressed.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The symptoms of nerve pain are much different than other kinds of pain, which makes them very easy to diagnose on occasion. At the same time, nerve pain can be easily diagnosed in many cases through X-rays, ultrasounds, and MRI scans that can identify what nerves are compressed and need to be repaired. Nerve pain can include both numbness and intense shooting pain, and this is the most common way to diagnose nerve pain as well. You will also find a weakness in the area where the nerve pain is occurring.

You may have felt a tingling when you hit your “funny bone” in your elbow, and that is the result of minor nerve compression. The same kind of sensations occur in the groin area when there is nerve compression there. A loss of sensation in the area of the pain is a common indicator of groin pain. You may also experience weakness in the area and feel like it is more difficult to move that part of the body.

The pain caused by a nerve compression is described as a sharp and shooting pain, in addition to a common aching pain. For you, it may be difficult to describe. Tell your doctor exactly what kind of pain you are experiencing, and they will likely find it a little easier to identify it as nerve pain. Your doctor may also want to see how you move that body part in an effort to isolate what is causing the pain and weakness in your groin area.

One common way of diagnosing groin pain is to examine the pain felt when you put your foot down. If a groin nerve is impacted, even stepping on the ground can cause incredible shooting pain. For a diagnosis, your doctor will also conduct a physical examination in order to assess if you have any swelling or inflammation that could be the root cause of your groin pain. Other tests like nerve conduction velocity tests can help, and you may get an electromyography as well where a needle is inserted into the groin in order to assess how the muscles are behaving.

 a doctor explains nerve pain in the groin

Treatment Options

There are many different treatment options for groin nerve compression, and some of them can include lifestyle changes. Corticosteroid injections can help with groin pain tremendously, as they will reduce the amount of inflammation going against the tissues that are compressing against the nerve. Some medications such as gabapentin or Lyrica are also designed to control neuropathy or nerve pain and can help to relieve the intensity of the shooting pains.

In severe cases of groin nerve pain, you may also need to have surgery. Here, the pressure on the nerve is reduced with decompression surgery. This is typically indicated if the nerve pain is long-term or prolonged. Lifestyle changes such as more rest and a healthy diet can help in the treatment of nerve pain as well.

Relief Strategies and Exercises

There are many different ways to find relief from groin pain. You will want to take steps to reduce any kind of pressure on the areas where the nerves are being compressed. This includes wearing looser-fitting clothing and even loosening items like belts or pants that may be too tight. There are also many different stretches that you can do in order to experience relief from groin pain.

If you sit at work a lot or at home for extended periods, get in the habit of standing regularly for a few extra minutes a day. This could relieve the pressure from your nerve pain. You may also want to take medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help reduce pain and inflammation around the nerves. Use stretches and other exercises that can reduce the impact of inflammation around your nerves as well.

The piriformis stretch is performed by sitting down with your legs bent but parallel. You want to lie down and bend your legs until you can touch your knees. Bring your knees towards your face and then reach down to hold the ankles. This position will relieve pressure on those inflamed groin nerves and help you considerably with groin pain.

Outer hip stretches can also bring relief to groin nerve compression. You can do this standing up. Put your inflamed leg behind your stronger leg and move your hips outward. Lean into the side of your body where there is no pain, and hold your stretches for 10 to 20 seconds to find relief.

When to Seek Professional Help

When you are dealing with nerve pain, it can be a debilitating and extraordinary pain that is nothing like you’ve ever felt. When pain gets that severe, you want to check with your doctor as soon as you can to seek diagnosis and relief. The pain caused by nerve pain is disruptive to your life, and it can be an intense pain that lasts for a long time. When you feel like you have tried everything from home remedies to over-the-counter pain relief and can not feel better, it is time to seek professional help for your nerve pain.

You may also want to consider an appointment if you have any bulges or swelling in your groin area. This could be the sign of a tumor or a hernia that is causing compression of the nerve pain. Other symptoms such as a burning when you go to the bathroom or generalized pain in the pelvis could be a symptom of nerve pain as well. In most cases, a compressed nerve is not something that is serious, and it can be treated very easily.

Find Relief From Groin Pain

Groin nerve pain can be an extraordinary pain that feels like it will never go away, but it will. Groin nerve pain is not a problem that is serious or will interfere with your quality of life permanently. It can be treated and relief is available. Talk to a doctor if this pain sounds all too familiar.

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers, MD

Sean Byers is currently a Resident in the Internal Medicine program at UTMB. He studied at the University of Queensland School of Medicine as well as received his Master’s in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Southern California. His background is in biology, computer science, public health, and internal medicine.

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