Groin Strain in Children: Care Instructions

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A groin strain is an injury that happens when your child tears or overstretches (pulls) a groin muscle. The groin muscles are in the area on either side of the body in the folds where the belly joins the legs. A groin strain can happen when your child exercises or lifts something or when your child falls. The injury can range from a minor pull to a more serious tear of the muscle.

Your child may feel pain and tenderness that gets worse when the legs are squeezed together. Your child may also have pain when raising the knee of the injured side. There may be swelling or bruising in the groin area or inner thigh. If your child has a bad strain, your child may walk with a limp while it heals.

Rest and other home care can help the muscle heal. Healing can take up to 3 weeks or more. Your doctor may want to see your child again in 2 to 3 weeks.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Have your child rest and protect the injured or sore groin area for 1 to 2 weeks. Your child should stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing pain or soreness. Do not let your child do intense activities while your child still has pain.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your child's groin area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • After 2 or 3 days, if the swelling is gone, apply heat. Put a warm water bottle or a warm cloth on your child's groin area. Put a thin cloth between the warm water bottle and your child's skin.
  • If your doctor gave your child crutches, make sure that your child uses them as directed.
  • Have your child wear snug shorts or underwear that support the injured area.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or severe pain or swelling in the groin area.
  • Your child's groin or upper thigh is cool or pale or changes color.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the groin or leg.
  • Your child cannot move the leg.
  • Your child cannot put weight on the leg.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.