If you’ve recently had hip surgery, you’re probably feeling pretty sore both physically and emotionally. Your hip pain could last for weeks or months, and it might be frustrating when you have to sit or lay motionless for long periods of time.
However, you might not be aware that your groin is at least partially to blame for your post-surgery pain. After all, your groin doesn’t usually hurt. The problem, however, is that your hip joint doesn’t function as well as it did before the operation. This is because one of the hip joints — the acetabulum — is no longer lined up directly with the socket.
This change in alignment can lead to discomfort in the groin, groin pain, or even an abnormal anatomical relationship between your groin and hip. Fortunately, there are several ways to ease your hip pain, and the first is to stop your groin from hurting.
Symptoms of groin pain after hip surgery
The groin region is very close to the pelvic area, which is why so many conditions have a connection to this area, such as pain during urination, bowel movements, or sex. In the case of groin pain, the most common symptoms include:
- Burning or discomfort when you urinate
- Pain or discomfort when you have a bowel movement
- Pain or discomfort when you have sex
- Pain that comes and goes and is intermittent
- Pain that is located in the outer portion of the groin
- Pain that is worsened by physical activity
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help. It is possible to have a lot of pain without having a medical condition.
Causes of Groin Pain
Groin pain can be a common occurrence, especially for those who engage in sports. It can also be a symptom of another underlying problem. If you think you may be suffering from groin pain, read on for some insight into the possible causes.
Overtiredness is a very common cause of groin pain. It may occur after a long period of inactivity, or it may be an immediate result of an activity that’s over-taxing your muscles, tendons, and ligaments (i.e. running a marathon).
- Tight Muscles
If you experience pain in the groin area, it may be because of a tight muscle. This is often the case when you perform repetitive movements or sports that require you to be on your feet for long periods of time.
- Overuse Injury
Overuse injuries are common in athletes. They may occur when the body is under stress (i.e. during exercise or sport) and isn’t given enough time to recover between bouts of intense activity.
A number of illnesses can cause groin pain, including bladder outlet syndrome and chondritis. Bladder outlet syndrome (BOS) is a condition that occurs when the tube (urethra) that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body is narrowed. This can lead to increased pressure in the bladder and intense, sharp pain in the groin area. Chondritis is a condition that affects the cartilage in the joints. It can cause pain and swelling in the joints, as well as in the adjacent soft tissue areas.
- Bladder Outlet Syndrome
Bladder outlet syndrome is a condition that occurs when the muscles that close the bladder outlet are too weak to fully close the urinary tract. This can lead to increased pressure in the bladder and intense, sharp pain in the groin area.
How to Treat Groin Pain
There are a number of ways to treat groin pain. The first step is to identify the cause of the pain. Once you’ve done that, you can look into treating the underlying cause.
The following are a few practical tips that can help reduce your risk of developing groin pain and help you identify and treat any underlying causes.
- Don’t overextend yourself. While it is important to be physically active, doing too much too soon can lead to injuries.
- Avoid lifting weights that are higher than your head.
- Warmup and stretch before a workout.
- Don’t perform high intensity activities (i.e. jogging, sprinting) immediately before or after a strenuous activity (i.e. basketball, soccer) that taxes your muscles and ligaments.
Wear looser-fitting clothing
Your post-surgical pain isn’t just in your hip socket — it’s also in your crotch. This means that the first thing you can do to ease your pain is to make sure you’re wearing looser-fitting clothing. Ideally, you should be wearing baggy clothing to allow your skin to breathe.
The last thing you want is to wear clothing that’s too tight or rubbing your skin raw. Make sure you’re not wearing clothing that’s too warm or cold either — your skin needs to be at a comfortable temperature when you’re wearing it.
Go for regular walks
Walking is a great way to get some exercise and release endorphins while easing your hip pain. After all, walking isn’t just good for your heart and lungs — it’s also great for your groin. In fact, walking is one of the best things you can do for your groin area after surgery.
The motion of walking helps to stretch and strengthen your groin muscles, which can prevent your hip from adhering to your pelvis (immobilization) and relieves pressure on your hip joint.
Strengthen your groin muscles
Strengthening your groin muscles can prevent your hip from adhering to your pelvis (immobilization) and relieves pressure on your hip joint. In order to strengthen your groin muscles, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, slowly lift one leg off of the ground and then lower it again. Do this ten times on each side — you should do this 2-3 times per day, for about 30-60 seconds at a time.
When you slouch, you put pressure on your hips and knees, which can lead to pain. Make sure you’re sitting or standing up straight — and don’t lean forward or backward. Knees should be bent at roughly a 90 degree angle.
Don’t lie in the same position for too long
Again, when you’re in bed, in the car, or sitting in a chair, don’t lie in the same position for too long. Ideally, you should be moving around — going for short walks, stretching, or doing some light housework.
No sitting for long periods of time
Again, don’t sit in one position for too long when you’re at home or in a car. Instead, alternate between sitting and standing every 30 minutes or so.
Stop wearing high heels
High heels are notorious for causing damage to your feet and knees — but they can also cause pain in your groin area. If you have to wear high heels for work or for social occasions, make sure you take them off as soon as you’re done.
Ice your groin after hip surgery
The last thing you want is for your groin area to be super-hot — this can lead to excruciating pain. Instead, try using a cold pack on your groin — particularly when you first start experiencing pain. The cold pack may help to decrease swelling and discomfort.
If you have some extra time, you can always try giving yourself a massage. After all, massage has proven to be effective in decreasing pain and increasing mood in people with chronic pain. In fact, a study found that women who received daily massages experienced significant reductions in hip pain, psychological stress, and pain catastrophizing after having their hip replaced.
Talk to Your Doctor
The good news is that many of these pain-relieving techniques can help to reduce your pain and make your post-surgical life a little easier. The only question is: have you tried them all? If not, your doctor may be able to suggest other pain-reducing techniques that are specific to your hip surgery.
In addition, your doctor may be able to give you some pain medication that you can take to decrease your pain and make these techniques a little easier to manage. Your doctor can also explain how your recovery is going and help you to feel more in control during this challenging time.