Groin pain – how lower back problems can head south

As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the source of pain isn’t always the same place as where the pain presents itself – it can be referred pain from somewhere else. When it comes to groin pain this can sometimes be caused by problems in the lower back.

The anatomy of the spine

The spine is divided into five sections; the cervical spine which make up the the top seven vertebrae, the next 12, the thoracic spine then the lower 5, the lumbar spine. There are also the sacrum and the coccyx below the lumbar spine which are all fused.

The nerves (as shown in the picture) that supply the legs originate in the lumbar spine, so if these get inflamed then pain can appear at any point where they run. The femoral nerve supplies the groin region, so if this gets inflamed then it may manifest itself as pain in the groin area or even further down the leg to the extent of pins and needles if the nerve is compressed.

How can it happen? 

Back pain, and hence secondary referred pain, can come on as a result of a huge number of causes such as poor lifting technique, prolonged maintenance of one position (such as sitting at a desk or standing in a queue. Even stress can contribute).

Whatever brings it on though, you’re far less likely to get any pain if you have a strong and ‘mobile’ back. The exercises in this blog are a good start and we will, at some point, be doing a blog looking at a selection of exercises for the gym that can be done to get a strong lower back.

How is it treated?

The assessment is key here as it’s important to work out exactly what is causing the pain and why – such as a muscle, disc or nerve problem. Only once correctly diagnosed can treatment can start.

The exact treatment will depend on what’s causing the pain – a disc bulge requires treatment to ‘offload’ the disc for example. Other approaches can include acupuncture to relieve pain and soft-tissue work can help with any muscle spasms.

Exercises should be focussed on preventing recurrence of the problem and addressing the underlying issues – if we take the disc example again then strengthening the muscles in the back should play a role here.

These two strengthening exercises are a good place to start but your physio can provide a tailored plan depending on the nature of the injury.

 

Compared to the other causes of groin pain that we covered in previous blogs, this is much more rare. That said it’s also an issue where an accurate assessment is essential in not just dealing with the problem as it stands, but in ensuring it doesn’t come back.

 

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