Groin pain is a common issue experienced by many athletes, including runners and soccer players. It is often underestimated and broadly referred to as public. However, pubalgia only describes the painful symptom in the groin region and could encompass various pathologies such as:

  • Hernias 
  • Bursitis 

Pubalgia, commonly associated with inflammation, typically occurs in individuals engaging in activities involving different levels and intensities of running. Sports like track and field, soccer, and football are considered risk factors.

How should one respond when faced with this condition?

Pubalgia and Sports: What’s the Connection? 

To grasp the intricacy of pubalgia, one must acknowledge that scientific literature recognizes over seventy causes of groin pain. The key to resolving this issue and returning to running and practicing other sports lies in the following:

  • Identifying the specific cause 
  • Administering targeted treatment 

The pain originates from an inflammatory condition affecting the insertion of the adductor muscles in the thigh, which arises due to:

  • Functional overload 
  • Repetitive microtrauma

This can happen when training becomes excessively intense and frequent or when the athlete neglects to incorporate sufficient rest into their training routine.

Pubalgia: What Causes It?

Pubalgia typically does not stem from a single cause. The most common causes include:

  • Insertional tendinopathy of the adductor muscles
  • Osteitis pubis
  • Sports hernia, a condition affecting the abdominal wall
  • Femoroacetabular conflict
  • Rupture of the acetabular labrum
  • Bursitis of the iliopsoas

Accurate diagnosis of pubalgia requires expertise in recognizing the signs and symptoms associated with each potential cause.

What to Do When Dealing with Pubalgia? 

The initial steps include the following: 

  • Ceasing sports activities 
  • Promptly consulting an orthopedic specialist 

Experts can assess and either confirm or rule out common causes in athletes, such as femoroacetabular conflict or tendinopathy.

Appropriate treatment can commence once the examination is completed and the causes are identified. This involves various therapies aimed at:

  • Alleviating inflammation
  • Reducing pain
  • Ultimately resolving the underlying condition 

Pubalgia could arise from the coexistence of two conditions that require distinct diagnostic approaches and specific treatments, such as:

  • Sports hernia, related to the abdominal wall and managed by a general surgeon;
  • Femoroacetabular conflict: a hip pathology addressed by an orthopedic surgeon that can be addressed through arthroscopy in the early stages.

In this case, addressing only one cause of the pain will not fully resolve the athlete’s issue. This often explains why pubalgia tends to linger in many runners and athletes.