Inguinal Ligament Sprain

by Sam Malone

Ligaments are tough fibrous bands of tissue that provide the bones and joints with stability and a range of motion. The inguinal ligament is found in the pelvic region and the groin and is also responsible for preventing the intestines from protruding into the groin area. If you are an athlete who runs, sprints, or hurdles or you play a sport like fencing, soccer, or ice hockey, you are more susceptible to sprains or sprains of the inguinal ligament. Symptoms of an inguinal ligament sprain include a popping or unusual feeling in the area of the groin followed by severe pain. Post the injury, you may feel a persistent tenderness and pain in the inside area of the thigh and the groin. It may also be difficult for you to bring your legs together or raise your knee without experiencing some pain. Inguinal ligament sprains or groin sprains are classified into three types:

  • Grade I Groin Sprain: With this type of sprain you may suffer from mild pain but no loss of movement.
  • Grade II Groin Sprain: Grade II sprains may have moderate pain, swelling and bruising. Activities such as running or jumping may be impaired until the ligament or muscle tear heals.
  • Grade III Groin Sprain: This type of sprain involves severe pain caused by a serious injury to the ligament or muscles. You may complain of swelling, muscle spasms, and bruising along with a loss of function of your legs until the sprain is treated and healed completely.
In order to diagnose the extent of the sprain, your doctor will conduct a complete physical examination along with tests such as X-rays and MRIs. Once the degree of the injury is determined, the proper treatment for the inguinal sprain is recommended.

Treatment for an Inguinal Sprain

For any kind of ligament or muscle sprain, treatment during the first 48 hours following the injury is the most important. During this time, you should ice the area every few hours to bring down the swelling and help reduce the pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers may also be prescribed to cope with the pain. If it’s a Grade I sprain, light exercises such as walking or using a stationery cycle may help reduce the stiffness and speed up the healing process. For Grade II sprains, once the 48 hours has passed, icing the area is substituted with moist heat therapy. Groin stretching exercises such as straight leg raises, adduction and abduction, hip flexions and hip rotations can gradually be added to your rehabilitation routine. Other exercises to stretch the inguinal ligament include pillow squeezes, knee stretches, hamstring stretches, hip rolls and board slides. However, do not practice any of these exercises without first consulting with your doctor or physiotherapist. Many doctors recommend the use of a compression wrap around the affected area to improve healing and increase the range of motion. Treatment for Grade III groin sprains includes much of the same medications and exercises. Complete rest is necessary for at least a week before any form of rehabilitation and physiotherapy can begin. In rare cases where the muscle or ligament is completely torn, surgery may be needed to repair the muscle. However, most patients with grade III injuries usually recover without any form of surgical intervention.

New research suggests that athletes and sports people prone to groin injuries should spend adequate amount of time performing exercises and stretches designed to prevent any type of groin sprain or injury. Other ways to prevent a groin sprain includes wearing the proper shoes that offer support and fit well, stopping the activity if you feel a pain in the groin and increasing the intensity of your exercise in small increments at a time to prevent spraining the muscles and ligaments. 
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