Difference Between Hernia and Pulled Groin Muscle

Groin pain or discomfort is not uncommon. There are many possible causes of these symptoms. It is often difficult to sort out the precise cause even with expert physician evaluation.

What can be mistaken for a hernia?

Groin pain from a pulled muscle and from a hernia can feel very similar. It can be dull or sharp or a burning discomfort.

A Hernia is distinguished by a visible and/or a palpable bulge in the area of the pain or discomfort.

A muscular strain (“pulled groin”) does not have a bulge but may have some “black and blue” changes under the skin in the area of the symptoms.

The most common cause of groin discomfort is a muscular strain. These symptoms are usually preceded by a sudden stretch of a group of muscles in this region. This straining of the muscle can tear fibers of the muscle that result in the pain you experience. From athletes to couch potatoes – we can all experience this. Muscular strains can be very painful but usually improve over time with rest and ice or non-steroidal inflammatory medication. The pain or discomfort from muscular strains rarely lasts more than a few months unless there is repetitive insult to the injured area. These are usually diagnosed when an experienced physician cannot identify a hernia as the cause of symptoms.

The most common types of muscle strains causing groin pain are listed here:

  • Iliopsoas muscle strain
  • Adductor muscle strain
  • Rectus muscle strain

  • The reason to fix the hernia is increasing discomfort, pain, or hernia enlargement (surgery will end these symptoms).
    groin pain images for article about how to know if you have a hernia or pulled groin muscle

    Is my groin strain a groin hernia symptom?

    The most clear differentiation that your pain is from a hernia would be if you notice a bulge in the groin or a palpable lump. This bulge or lump is more pronounced with exertion or standing and may disappear with laying down. The discomfort from a hernia in the groin is often described as a burning feeling. In men they may notice the pain in the groin radiates toward the testicle or scrotum. Sometimes a hernia is so subtle that there will be no visible or palpable bulge or lump.

    What a pulled groin feels like

    Discomfort or pain in the groin which is often made worse with bending over or moving the leg away from the body. It can also be associated with pain on the inner thigh adjacent to the groin pain. The pain and distribution of the pain can be exactly like a groin hernia. The “pulled groin” muscle strain will not have a bulge or lump that comes and goes.

    Signs of a groin (inguinal) hernia

    The most common signs of an inguinal hernia are:

  • Pain associated with an abnormal bulge or swelling that often disappears when lying down.
  • Burning discomfort.
  • Pain radiating toward the testicle.
  • When to discuss a groin strain with a doctor.

    We recommend seeking medical attention:

  • When the pain is severe.
  • When the pain is associated with a bulge or swelling.
  • When the pain does not go away after a few weeks.

  • If you think you might have a hernia, we advise you to speak with your doctor promptly as hernias will not repair themselves.

    If you are diagnosed with a groin (inguinal) hernia, seek an opinion from a surgeon who specializes in hernia repair. Your doctor will be able to help you decide if you have a hernia or a pulled muscle. This may be obvious by your physical examination or imaging studies (CT scan , MRI, Ultrasound) may be required.

    Why Choose Center for Hernia Repair

    Dr Yunis’s experience will help to diagnose the cause of your groin pain. Dr Yunis and many other hernia experts can reassure you about the diagnosis and if there is any urgency for treatment.

    We understand the fear and anxiety about the possible causes of your pain or discomfort. An accurate diagnosis can also lead the way to a rapid recovery without surgery. At the Center for Hernia Repair, we enjoy giving patients the great news that they don’t require surgery.

    If you do require an operation, we specialize in all available hernia repair techniques. Conventional, robotic, laparoscopic and non-mesh options are available. The solution to your hernia problem is customized to your specific needs.

    Dr. Yunis relies on his 30 years of experience to optimize your outcome by minimizing pain and maximizing safety and durability of your repair.


    What can be mistaken for a hernia?

    Yes, a hernia can be mistaken for a pulled muscle due to the location of the pain and discomfort. A physical examination by a doctor can help distinguish between the two.

    How do you rule out a groin hernia?

    The most reliable and precise way to diagnose a groin hernia is a hernia specialist conducting a physical examination. Sometimes imaging tests (ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI) are necessary if a hernia is suspected and it is not found on physical examination.

    Can I check myself for a groin hernia?

    You can perform a simple test by standing and coughing. If a bulge appears in the groin area, it may indicate a hernia. However, a physical examination by a doctor is necessary for a definitive diagnosis.

    Does a hernia hurt to touch?

    A hernia itself is not usually painful to touch, but the surrounding area may be tender. Pain and discomfort may increase when coughing, standing, or lifting.

    Can I exercise if I have an inguinal hernia?

    This is a controversial subject with many possible answers. Most hernia specialists would agree it is safe to exercise with most hernias. Please seek the advice of a trusted medical professional before beginning any exercise routine.

    Can a groin hernia fix itself?

    No, a groin hernia will not fix itself. Surgery is necessary to repair a hernia and prevent it from becoming incarcerated or strangulated.

    Center for Hernia Repair

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