Trained in dentistry, Sree is currently pursuing lab sciences. She loves researching and sharing information on various health topics.
What Is Inner Thigh Pain?
Anyone can suddenly experience inner thigh pain. It lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Pain varies in intensity and character. It may be felt as a stabbing pain over the affected area or as a general ache all over the entire thigh. The pain is often worst at night, and it may keep the person awake for several hours.
There are many possible causes for this type of pain. Pain may happen anywhere. It can happen in front, back, sides, or edges of the thigh—or it can happen at the meeting point between the thigh and the buttocks, the thigh and the knees, etc. Most of the time, the pain is not serious.
Muscular Conditions - Major Causes of Inner Thigh Pain
Pain may be a result of some intense exercises that strained certain muscles. Pain may also be a result of some medical condition affecting the muscles, the bone and/or the joints.
One of the major causes of pain in the inner thigh area is straining or pulling on the muscles that are connected to the thighbones. Strain or injury to the adductor or inner thigh muscles is a very common reason. Muscle strain results from overstretching the involved muscles. The resulting pain is typically localized within the inner thigh and/or the groin area. Pain will significantly limit the movement of the involved extremity.
Groin Strain - Which Thigh Muscles Are Affected?
The adductors in the thigh are injured in groin strain. This muscle group is composed of five muscles. These are attached on top of the thighbone, near the point where it meets the pubic bone. The muscles extend down along the inner thigh and further downward to the inner portion of the knee.
The function of the adductors is mainly to pull the legs toward the midline of the body. These muscles function when you pull your legs together, such as when sitting with the legs side by side, during a frog-kick swim or when straddling something in between the legs.
The adductors of the thigh also help in stabilizing leg movements. It keeps the legs from wobbling out of control when running, moving side to side, cutting quickly during sports like basketball and racquetball, or when kicking sideways such as in karate or soccer.
The muscle is most probably strained when pain or discomfort is felt over the inner thighs or the groin. It may be a sudden onset or persistent type of pain. The next best thing to do is to stop the activity and perform acute management to prevent further injury.
Symptoms of Groin Strain
When groin strain happens, pain is felt along the length of the inner thigh. It is described as sharp and sudden pain that appears right after rapid and explosive movements. For example, suspect groin strain when sharp, sudden pain is felt after suddenly changing directions while running.
- Extreme tenderness over the area of the strained muscle
- Stiffness in the affected muscle, with increased pain during movement or with continued use of the affected leg
- Feeling weak when trying to move the thigh toward the strained groin area
Pain and stiffness can become severe that walking or simple movements may prove to be very difficult. At times, it may even require the use of crutches for days.
Causes of Groin Strain
Activities that may cause muscle strain in the thighs include engaging in high impact sports and running. Suddenly stopping or turning in the middle of an activity may also strain the adductors in the thighs.
Injuries that affect the adductor muscles may range from microscopic tears to major ruptures. These are called groin strains or groin pulls. Despite the name, the groin is not really affected.
The intensity of pain due to exercise-induced muscle strain ranges from mild to severe. Intensity depends on the extent of injury. Mild discomfort is often felt when the muscle that connects the thighbone to the pubic bone becomes strained. Severe pain is felt when the muscle is torn or completely ruptured.
Explosive activities may also strain the muscles. Examples are powerful kicking, twisting, jumping or running. Groin strain may also result when running on slippery surfaces such as wet grass.
Other potential causes of groin strain include:
- Cold weather
- Tight groin muscle (e.g., poor or no warm up exercises prior to intense activities)
Consequences of Not Treating Groin Strain
Not all groin strains require medical attention. Minor strains can heal on their own after a few days. Major tears and ruptures would definitely require medical attention, and may even require surgical repair.
Some groin strains may recur. That is, is the muscles are not strengthened. Continued improper use of the muscles may also cause recurrence such as when there is inadequate warm-up exercises before a strenuous activity.
To prevent groin strain from recurring, engage in muscle strengthening exercises that involve the thigh muscles. Stretch the inner thigh muscles properly, especially before an intense or strenuous physical activity.
Home Remedies for Groin Strain
As soon as you feel pain over the inner thighs during an activity, stop immediately. Continuing will only worsen the injury.
Traditional medical management of strains, including groin strain includes RICE. This stands for Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. Rest means stop the activity and avoid moving the affected extremity. Apply some ice to limit the inflammation and swelling*.
- *Right after an injury, the inflammatory process is activated. Injured muscles release signal molecules to stimulate the immune cells to respond to the area. The blood will bring these immune cells to the site of injury where they will accumulate. This will cause swelling. The injured muscles will also release compounds that signal the cardiovascular system to bring more blood to the area. Blood carries numerous cells and compounds that will work together to heal the injury.
- When injury happens, the cells rupture. This will cause the release of intracellular proteins into the surrounding area. The tendency of these cellular proteins is to attract water. This will cause water from the blood and from the transcellular regions to accumulate within the site of injury. This will contribute to the swelling that typically develops after an injury.
- Increased blood flow to the site contributes to redness and warmth. These are common occurrences after an injury as part of the initial inflammatory response. These are all part of the body's innate attempt to limit injury and start the healing process.
Applying ice during the acute phase of injury helps to limit the swelling. It limits the blood flow and the consequent arrival of water, inflammatory molecules and immune cells to the injured site. When the injured site swells, pain typically worsens. The accumulation of the various compounds and molecules can put considerable pressure over nearby nerve endings. This contributes to pain that can limit movement.
Ice application is only for 10 minutes at a time. Longer than that, blood flow may be seriously compromised. Inflammation is part of the healing process. Prolonged inhibition of blood flow will reduce this response and compromise the success rate of the natural healing process. It will also support the accumulation of toxins, intracellular molecules and dead cells within the injured site. This can lead to complications and more injuries.
Apply ice for 10 minutes, then remove. Repeat this step four times each day for the next 2 to 3 days after the injury. Do not apply ice directly on the skin. This can cause localized cold burns. Wrap ice with a towel before applying on the injured area. After 48 to 72 hours, heat compress is applied to the area for pain relief and reduction of swelling.
Compression is applying supportive devices over the inured area. This helps improve pain and allow for some mobility. These also support the injured site, and prevent further injuries. Examples include applying some elastic support bandages over the injured thigh. Wrapping bandages can also help in reducing the swelling. It limits the area where water and blood accumulates to avoid any potential injuries or compromise to structures adjacent to the injured area.
When wrapping the injured area, it should be a snug fit. You should be able to insert two fingers underneath the bandages. It should not be too tight or too loose. Applying bandages too tightly can result in serious compromise of blood supply. The bandage is too tight if the area below it starts to feel numb, tingle, swell or becomes cold to the touch. Increased pain is also an indication of applying it too tightly. Loosen it or reapply properly. Apply the bandages too loosely and there won't be enough compression for pain and swelling reduction.
Elevating the extremity can also help in limiting the swelling in the injured area as it facilitates venous return. This helps water accumulating in the area to return to the blood for circulation. This is done a few times during the first 24 hours after injury.
Aside from RICE, taking some pain medications can help. NSAIDs are over-the-counter pain medications you may take, such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen. These can also help in controlling inflammation over the injury.
The injured muscles should undergo rehabilitation. This is necessary to restore the strength of the muscle. Otherwise, this same muscle will be prone to future injuries. This phase can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year or two. The length of rehabilitation depends on various factors such as age, extent of injury and conditions of previous injuries (if any).
A balanced diet is also important in recovering from groin strain. You need to supply your body with nutrients that the muscles can use for healing. Examples are proteins, minerals and various vitamins. You also need to increase your intake of fiber and fluids. These will help reduce the complications that commonly occur due to immobility or decreased activity.
Preventing Pulled Muscles or Strains
The best way to prevent groin strain and muscle pulls for that matter is to properly warm up before any exercise routine. It is also helpful to strengthen the muscle to avoid pulls even when doing regular daily physical activities such as climbing the stairs. It may be better if you start strengthening exercises after theinner thigh pain has subsided.
- Butterfly Stretch: Sit on the floor with the knees bent and the back kept straight. Put the soles of the feet together. The ankles are pulled inward toward the crotch. Rest the elbows on the inner side of the knees. Bend from the waist and lean forward while pushing your elbows down on the knees. You should feel a stretch in the inner thigh muscles. Hold that stretch for about 20 seconds. Return to the starting position and take a few deep breaths. Repeat for 3 to 5 more times.
- Hurdler Stretch: Perform this exercise while standing. Bend the uninjured leg at the knee and the toes pointed forward. The injured leg should be stretched in front, with the foot flexed and the toes pointed toward the body. Bend at the waist and reach over to the toes of the injured leg. Hold the position and let the muscles stretch for 20 seconds. Return to starting position and take a few deep breaths. Repeat the stretch 3 to 5 times.
- Seated Straddle Stretch: This stretching exercise involves all the thigh muscles. Sit on the floor and spread the legs apart. Straighten the spine while tightening the abdominal muscles. Take a deep breath then bend at the waist. Stretch the arms forward, as far in front as you can tolerate. Hold that stretch for 25 seconds. Return to starting position. Repeat this exercise for 3 to 5 more times.
When to Seek Medical Help
Again, groin strain heals on its own in a few days. Rest and home remedies will help. However, there may be instances when seeking professional medical help is the best course of action.
Assess your level of pain. If it is too severe that walking becomes almost impossible, call for medical help. The injury may be major and would need emergency medical measures, such as when there is muscle rupture.
Physical examination will be conducted. An X-ray won't usually be necessary. Anti-inflammatory conditions will usually be prescribed for pain relief.
Sometimes, groin pull symptoms may be mistaken for an actual inguinal hernia. This condition would warrant some expert assessment and management.
Hip pain is produced by the improper movement of the pelvic joint, particularly at the point where the upper end of the thighbone is attached (hip socket or acetabulum). Improper movement would place unwarranted strain on the surrounding structures, such as the muscles that attach the thighs to the hips. This can result in pain felt over the inner thighs and adjacent areas such as the hips, buttocks and lower back.
Improper movement of the hip joint initiates a cycle of pain, inflammation and strain. This will result in further changes in the way the hip joint moves, leading to even more pain. The pain pattern is not necessarily within the same place as where the dysfunction is.
Physiology of the Hips
The hip joint in relation to the head of the thighbone should be in the neutral position before a movement. If not, movements will be magnified. This won't do well with more physical activities such as impact sports and running. Simple walking may also prove to be more strenuous than normal for the hip joint and the other structures involved.
When the hip is in an anterior tilt position, structures located at the front of the hip shorten and compressed. The structures at the back of the hips become abnormally stretched or over lengthened.
When the hip is in a posterior tilt position, the reverse occurs. Structures at the front surface of the hips become over stretched. The back (posterior) structures are shortened andcompressed.
Pain over the inner thighs may be caused by incorrect position of the thighbone or the femur. This bone may be rotated either externally or internally.
Internal rotation of the femur results in the shortening of the inner thigh muscles. This will compress the muscle attachments to the groin. The muscles of the outer thigh would be stretched more than normal. These can result in pain.
External rotation of the femur would result in the over lengthening of the inner thigh muscles. The outer thigh muscles would shorten and compress. These will also result in pain.
The hip muscles will not be able to function properly if the femur is not in its proper position. If the problems were not properly managed, adjacent structure would compensate. This will result in straining along with joint compression, especially within the pelvis. If allowed to go on over a prolonged period, the femur and the hip joint will eventually deteriorate, resulting in increased pain.
Health Conditions that Can Cause Inner Thigh Pain
Aside from the usual strain on the inner thigh muscles, health conditions may also cause pain. Common health conditions contributing to pain in the inner thigh and nearby areas include the following:
Groin or Inguinal Hernia
This condition happens when intestinal tissues or fatty tissues push through the abdominal wall and enter the inguinal canal. The inguinal canal is located at the base of the abdominal region.
This type is among the most commonly occurring forms of hernia. This is a condition wherein part of the abdominal wall weakens. Nearby organs descend. The descent places pressure on adjacent structures. This can impede blood flow and may press on local nerves.
The weight of the descending tissue places undue pressure on the structures below it. For instance, the weight of fatty tissues or sections of the intestines will put excessive pressure on the muscles, blood vessels and nerve endings in the inguinal or groin area. Pressure on the blood vessels will compromise blood flow. This can lead to pain. Reduced blood flow to the muscles may lead to tissue death if not relieved immediately. Pressure on the nerve endings will cause pain.
When an inguinal hernia is present, there is a noticeable bulge in the groin area. This can be very painful, especially during movement. This type of hernia can produce pain and discomfort in the inner thigh region.
Pain or discomfort over the groin and the inner thigh may worsen when lifting weights or when straining. However, not all hernias cause pain.
There may also be a tugging sensation, burning, or heaviness in the inner thigh. In males, the scrotum may look swollen and usually on one side only. Females may also experience inguinal hernia. It may be seen as a bulge in the labia (large skin fold surrounding the vaginal opening).
Some of the few conditions that can contribute to inguinal hernia include:
- Lifting extremely heavy weights
- Excessive coughing
Symptoms of Inguinal Hernia
The most notable indicator of inguinal hernia is a bulge in the groin or pubic area. The bulge tends to enlarge when coughing or standing up. This is also sensitive and painful when touched.
Other symptoms include:
- Pain when bending over, exercising or coughing
- Sharp pain
- Burning sensation
- Swelling in the male scrotum
- Full or heavy sensation over the groin area
Treatment of Inguinal Hernia
The main treatment for inguinal hernia is surgery. The surgeon will remove the excess fat that pushed into the inguinal canal, if that caused the hernia. Surgery may also involve returning the herniated abdominal tissues or organs back into their proper places.
How to Prevent Inguinal Hernia
Genetic defects that cause hernia cannot be prevented. However, there are measures that can be taken to reduce the severity. These include:
- High fiber diet
- Maintain healthy weight
- Avoid lifting heavy objects
- Use support when coughing
Eating a high fiber diet will make passing stool easier. You won't need to strain too much when defecating. Combine the high fiber diet with drinking lots of water.
Healthy weight will reduce the possibility of excessive fats forming.
Lifting heavy objects will lead to straining. This can increase the abdominal pressure and cause fats and/or intestinal sections to protrude through any weakened sections of the abdominal wall. The same thing happens when coughing is frequent. Use support over the lower abdominal area to reduce the chances of herniation.
Smoking can cause irritation of the various tissues in the body. It may contribute to the weakening of some sections of the abdominal wall.
Other Health Conditions that may Contribute to Pain in the Inner Thigh
|Health Condition||Characteristic||Character of pain|
main cause of kidney stones is having an excessive amount of certain compounds
The pain may be felt over the inner thigh or over the groin area.
most common causes are excessive amounts of oxalates and of calcium in the blood. These are deposited within the tissues of the kidneys. These will accumulate over time and become crystals or stones.
Pain is sudden and very intense over the groin or inner thighs.
Pain occurs in spasms.
Pain is severe, which would reduce in severity in between spasms.
A degenerative hip joint condition, which occurs over a long period
Pain may radiate from the hips to the upper inner thigh region.
Bones within the pelvic acetabulum (hip socket) rub together repeatedly over a prolonged period
There is also soreness within the affected area.
The affected person typically displays guarding behavior over the affected area, with noticeable limping.
Cancerous growth within the bones
Pain may radiate from the hips to the upper inner thigh region.
There is also soreness within the affected area.
The affected person typically displays guarding behavior over the affected area, with noticeable limping.
Other Possible Sources of Pain on the Inner Thigh
Pain over the thighs can happen in various areas. The site of the pain is usually helpful in determining the potential cause. This is important in proper management.
Back of the Thigh
The pain may come from the back of the thigh and can include the inner thigh area.
Pain in the inner thigh may be felt over the hamstrings. This is the most common reason for pain felt over the back of the thigh. When the hamstrings are strained, pain can be felt over the inner portion of the back of the thigh.
At the back of the thigh are two thick and strong muscle bands. These are the hamstrings. Both muscle bands of the hamstring originate from the base of the pelvis called the "sitz" bone or the ischial tuberosity. This is the point near the middle of the crease where the upper portion of the thigh meets the lower curve of the buttocks.
The outer muscle that makes up the hamstrings is the biceps femoris. This muscle is attached to the knees. The inner hamstring muscle is composed of two smaller muscles. These ae the semimembranosus and the semitendinosus. These muscles run the length of the leg and attach to the inner portion of the knee. Trigger points tend to form around the middle area of the hamstring muscles. These trigger points can cause pain along the thighs.
Trigger points along the outer hamstring (biceps femoris) are commonly concentrated around the back of the knee. These can cause pain that may radiate and felt along the inner thighs.
Trigger points forming along the inner hamstrings typically develop at the back of the thigh, just like with the biceps femoris. The trigger points are typically concentrated around the area of the lower butt. This can cause pain along the upper to middle regions of the inner thigh area.
Pain due to the trigger points in the hamstrings can be managed with topical herbs. Patches and liniment may be enough to ease the pain. Massage and acupuncture directly on the back of the thigh, where the trigger points are, may also help.
Pain over the back of the thigh may be from a condition involving the muscles of the butt. Tightness or strain in the muscles may produce pain that can involve the inner thigh region. Aside from the trigger points, pain may also be caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve. When this happens, intense pain can be felt throughout the leg.
The myofascial trigger points may involve two main muscles- the piriformis and the gluteus minimus.
The piriformis muscle is the muscular band that spans the area between the edge of the sacrum* towards the top of the thighbone**.
*The sacrum is the triangularly shaped bone that sits at the base of the spinal column.
**The top of the thighbone is called the femur's greater trochanter.
Trigger points within the piriformis would typically cause pain over the buttock and hip areas. The pain may also spread and be felt over the back of the inner thighs.
The main trigger points within the piriformis muscle are:
- Outer margin of the sacrum
- Just inside the back portion of the hip joint
Inner thigh pain from trigger points within the piriformis can be relieved by doing massage. Strong self-massage techniques using a lacrosse or tennis ball is one great way to release the trigger points in the piriformis. Herbal liniments and patches may also work in relieving strain over this area to ease the pain over the inner thighs and the rest of the legs.
This muscle constitutes a small area of the large gluteus muscle group. This makes up the buttocks. Gluteus maximus is the larger component, which is also the part that we see and refer to as the butt.
Trigger points typically develop over the upper margin of the gluteus minimus towards the middle of the buttocks and along the muscle's upper outer margin. Pain felt over the inner thigh is elicited by trigger points forming in the upper, inner margin of the gluteus minimus. This is the region just below the iliac crest of the pelvis (crest of the pelvis). The pain may spread lower, towards the back of the knees. Pain over the middle and the outer border of the thighs are typically from trigger points in the upper outer margin of the glutes minimus. This region is between the point where the head of the thighbone meets the pelvic socket. The pain may reach down towards the front of the foot.
Press on the area of the gluteus minimus to find the trigger point. Lie on a tennis or lacrosse ball and slowly move over it, concentrating over the muscle area. When pain is elicited, press on the ball over the trigger point for 3 to 5 seconds. Repeat until the trigger point is released or pain is relieved to some degree. Placing an herbal patch or applying liniment over the trigger point may also help with pain relief.
Front and Inner Thigh
Pain over the inner thigh may also stem from conditions involving the muscles of the inner and front thigh.
This muscle forms the upper portion of the thighs. It is found right below the fold of the groin. Trigger points and other conditions affecting the pectineus may cause pain over the thighs. The common pain pattern of an affected pectineus includes the nearby groin area. Pain may spread to the front and the inner portion of the thighs.
Feel the area below the fold of the groin. This will ideally be the area halfway between the back and the front portions of the thigh. Look for a significantly tenderspot. Pressing on this may elicit pain. Massage that area until the trigger point is released. Be gentle because this area is too sensitive. Liniment and herbal patches must be used with extreme caution because it might cause some serious irritation.
This muscle is part of the quadriceps ("quads"). Look at the inner thigh. The distinctive bulge right above the knee is the vastusmedialis muscle.
Conditions affecting this muscle are major reasons for pain over the inner portion of the knee. The pain may also spread upwards and be felt over the front and /or inner portion of the thighs.
Feel the area where the inner and the front portions of the thigh meet. Start feeling right above the inner upper margin of the kneecap. This is a very common spot for trigger points. Continue feeling upwards towards about half of the thigh. Press on this spot firmly to feel for tender spots. Slide the fingers towards the sides also to find trigger points. This area is also a common area for trigger point development.
Another muscle is the gracilis muscle. This is a long strip of thin muscle running from below the upper margin of the pelvis to the lowest margin of the knee.
The common sites for trigger points are in the middle of the gracilis muscle, towards the inner region of the thigh. Trigger points may still develop anywhere along the length of the muscle.
When pain appears, it is typically within a few inches around the trigger point. Pain does not usually spread.
The pain stemming from the gracilis muscle is often characterized as a stinging or a burning feeling. It is felt right below the skin (superficial pain).
The gracilis muscle is thin. It lies right on top of the other muscles of the inner thigh. It is not easily felt along the entire region of the inner thigh. You would have to feel it gently through the skin to find any trigger points.
If you find the spot that produces pain, perform gentle massage over the area. Liniment or herbal patch applied to the area may help with pain relief.
Adductor Longus and Adductor Brevis
This muscle is attached to the bottom of the pelvic bone and runs down to the rear upper region of the thighbone. The function of this muscle is to contract and bring the thighs towards the body's midline- a process called adduction.
Trigger points developing in these muscles typically form in the midline of the thighs, at the level of the groin. Pain pattern covers the upper region of the thighs, a little below the pelvis towards the groin area, and the front of the hips. It also includes the part going down towards the inner thighs. Pain may also spread down to the knees and even reaching the inside of the shin.
You can feel this muscle better when sitting down with the ankle resting across the knees. The inside of the thigh is now better exposed. Draw an imaginary line to divide the inside of the thigh. You can feel the adductor brevis and adductor longus muscles on the area above this imaginary line. You can feel these muscles better if you raise the knee slightly to the direction of your face.
Feel through the region of the adductor brevis and adductor longus for any trigger points. Gently massage any tender spots. If the spot is far from the groin and the skin is not too sensitive in this area, you may apply liniment or herbal patch. If you wish to use a patch over this area, apply a thin layer of oil or lotion first. In case the skin becomes irritated, immediately remove the patch and soak the area in warm water.
This is a very large muscle of the inner thigh. It is attached to the base of the pelvic bone on one end. The other end is attached to the back of the femur (thighbone).
This muscle adducts or brings the thighs towards the midline of the body or closer to the other thigh. To see how this muscle works, try to squeeze a ball in between your thighs. The main muscle that allows you to do this is the adductor magnus.
Trigger points can develop in the middle along the length of the muscle, along its inner margin of this muscle. Pain covers a broad region. The pain pattern spans the groin area and along the inner thigh.
Sit down when looking for trigger points. Rest one of your ankles on your opposite knee. Palpate the entire length of this muscle. Pay special attention to the common trigger point area, which is the area right above or near the midpoint between the knee and the groin.
This forms part of the quadriceps group of muscles. This muscle is attached to the upper tip of the thighbone and traverses the thighs up to just under the knees.
This muscle develops its main trigger point at the front of the thigh, a quarter of the distance between the groin and the knee. Pain pattern radiates in various directions. It can be felt across the front of the thigh, toward the middle, the outer margin or the inner border of the front of the upper thigh region.
When this muscle develops trigger points and becomes painful, movement becomes limited. Straightening the knee or climbing the stairs may become difficult.
This is the body's longest muscle. The sartorius muscle is attached to the frontal prominence of the pelvis, passing across the thighs and connects to the underside of the inner portion of the knee.
Trigger points may develop anywhere along the length of this long muscle. Pain is felt within a few inches from the trigger point. The pain is often characterized as numbing or burning quality.
When trigger points form near the area of the knee, it will make the inner knee portion very sensitive to touch. Pain may also develop in front of the thighs, middle of the thighs and inner, lower portion of thighs, depending on where the trigger point occurs.
Feel across the entire length of the muscle for trigger points. Massage any spots that produced or alleviated pain. The area spanned by the sartorius muscle is generally safe for use with herbal liniment or patches.
This is another of the four muscles belonging to the quadriceps muscle group. Of the four, the rectus femoris is the large and powerful one located at the front of the thigh. All the four muscles are joined together by a single tendon. This tendon encloses the kneecap and attaches the four muscles to the lower leg.
Two main trigger points tend to form along the rectus femoris. There are the upper and the middle spot on the front portion of the thigh. Both trigger points have almost the same pain pattern. The pain is typically concentrated over the knee area. There may also be referred pain above the kneecap. Pain may still be felt along the middle and near the outer and inner margins of the thigh.
To look for trigger points along the rectus femoris, feel the entire muscle. Start by feeling along the prominence of the pelvis then downward to the kneecap.
When you hit a trigger point, you may produce pain that spreads along the thigh area. Massage the spot that produced the pain. Herbal liniment or patch may be applied over the trigger point too.
Muscles of the Abdomen
Surprisingly, conditions affecting the abdominal muscles may also cause pain to the thighs, including the inner thigh area. Two main abdominal muscles may produce inner thigh pain, particularly the upper region. These are the psoas and the rectus abdominis.
This is a deeper abdominal muscle. It is attached in front of the spine and connects on its other end to the inner portion of the hipbone. Its associate muscle called the iliacus connects the psoas to the top of the thighbone.
Contraction of the psoas muscle would bring the thigh upwards, in the direction of the torso. This muscle plays an important role in sitting up from a prone (lying) position.
The most common trigger point is the right, uppermost portion of the psoas. The trigger point may be found 1 to 2 inches on either side of bellybutton (navel). There are times when a trigger point develops slightly below the navel.
Another common trigger point is at the margin of the lower abdominal area. The spot is just on the inner side of the most prominent bulge of the pelvic bone.
The associated iliacus muscle may also form a trigger point and cause pain. The trigger point would usually be found on the inner portion of the upper thigh, right below the crease of the groin.
Any tightness in these three areas can lead to numbness or pain in the upper regions of the thighs, including the upper, inner thigh area. Pain may also be felt in the lower back, genitals and the groin areas.
To get the best access to the psoas muscle, lie flat on your back. Bend the knees. Rest one knee on top of the other, keeping them bent and both lying on the floor on one side of the body. The psoas can be felt on the opposite side from where the knees are lying.
Press deeply on the uppermost portion of the muscle. Start palpating 1 to 2 around the navel. Move a few inches away from this area to feel the width of the psoas muscle.
Check that what you are palpating is the psoas and not the rectus abdominis muscle. The rectus abdominis is the superficial muscle and lying underneath it is the psoas. Raise your head. The muscle that you feel contracting when you do so will be the rectus abdominis. Feel underneath this muscle to palpate the psoas. Feel the psoas for any tenderness. A very rigid psoas will feel like a firm vertical band on the abdomen.
If you feel something pulsating, that's most probably a major artery called the descending aorta. Move your hand slightly toward the side to feel the psoas muscle.
Rigid psoas tends to be tender, too. Gently massage the area a few times to release the knots. On the most painful spots, you may apply liniment or herbal pain relief patches.
You may palpate further downward to find any trigger points. Look for the ASIS or the anterior superior iliac spine. This is the most noticeable bulge or protrusion of the pelvic bone, located at the side of the hips. Palpate a little bit closer toward the midline of the body. Move your fingers up and down to check for any tender spots.
If trigger points are present in this area, you will feel pain over the pelvis or groin. Gentle massage may work. Liniments and herbal patches may be applied but be careful not to apply some on the groin area.
Tender spots on the iliacus are often relieved when the upper points are massaged. If pain persists on the thighs despite massages, patches or liniments, you may look for and massage tender spots on the iliacus.
To look for trigger points in the iliacus, lie flat on the floor. Extend your legs. Press deeply on the inner front surface of your thighbone, an inch below the groin. Hitting a tender spot will produce pain over the thighs. Gently massage this spot for pain relief.
As previously mentioned, this is the superficial muscle over the abdomen. This lies on top of the psoas. The rectus abdominis is the central abdominal muscle. Toning the rectus abdominis results in the "six-pack" look of the abdomen.
Tenderness in this abdominal muscle produces pain felt over the following areas:
All throughout the abdominal region
- Upper inner thigh
Inner thigh pain is least likely to be from tenderness within the rectus abdominis. However, this possibility is still worth checking. Assess and manage tender spots over this muscle especially if your pain matches the pain pattern described above.
Common trigger points typically develop in the area between the navel and the top of the pubic bone. Palpate the area a few inches on each side of the genitals and slightly on top of the genitals.
You can massage this area gently if significant tenderness is felt. A pain patch may also be applied if the area is not too hairy or sensitive. You may clip some hair off before applying a patch. Avoid placing pain patches over the genitals.
Muscles of the Buttocks and the Lower Back
Conditions involving these muscles are less likely to produce inner thigh pain or frontal thig pain. These are still worth checking, though. You may look into these possibilities if none of the previously discussed muscles and management provided relief for your pain.
The best way to look for trigger points within these muscles is doing it someone or with a lacrosse or tennis ball. Lie flat on the floor, on your back. Bend the knees and place both feet flat on the floor. Place the ball under your back or buttocks. Move your body slightly to roll the ball through the muscles of the lower back and the buttocks.
You may also do this while standing. Stand with the butt and/or the back against a wall. Place the ball between the back/butt and the wall. Roll the ball over the muscles until a trigger point is detected. If pain is produced over a spot, stop and press on the ball. Keep the pressure on for about 3 to 5 seconds. Then, slowly roll the ball around the trigger point. You may also apply a pain relief patch over the area to help release the tight spot.
This strong muscle spans most of the area of the lower back. It starts from the area of the lowest rib and runs down to the top surface of the pelvic bone.
Trigger points may form around the outer edge of the quadratus lumborum. These are usually found about 3 inches away from the spine. People with small frame may find the trigger points closer to the spine. People with larger frames may find the trigger points a few more inches from the spine.
Two common trigger points are in the upper section of the muscle, near the border of the lowest rib and near the top of the pelvis. The pain pattern of the first trigger point (near the lowest rib), is above the top bony curve of the pelvic bone, the outer margin of the hip bone, the upper outer curve of the buttocks and sometimes, near the top of the crease of the buttocks. Pain may also appear over the inner thighs, at the area near the groin.
The pain pattern of the second trigger point (near the top of the pelvic bone) includes the lower curve of the buttocks (towards the midline) and the outer edge of the hips.
Other Possible Contributors to Pain in the Inner Thighs
Pain in this area can be classified into the following:
Skinny Jeans Syndrome
This pain involves the nerve that runs down the thigh called the lateral cutaneous nerve. This nerve is responsible for the sensations felt over the front or outer area of the thigh.
A part of the nerve passes through the front section of the pelvis. This makes it susceptible to be compressed by very tight-fitting jeans- hence, the term "skinny jeans syndrome".
Compression results to a tingling sensation. It may turn into a numbing or a burning sensation. It may also produce a superficially painful feeling.
The pain worsens when tight jeans are paired with high heels. This pairing will push the pelvis forward, further compressing the nerve.
This type of inner thigh pain is easily managed. All it takes is to toss those tight jeans away and wear loose-fitting pants. Recovery will take a few days to a few weeks.
This type is related to skinny jean syndrome. It affects the same nerve. The pain is caused by chronic irritation of the lateral cutaneous nerve. The pain is more of a burning sensation over the inner thighs.
This is caused by pressure on the skin-deep (superficial) nerves on the side or the front surfaces of the thigh. It produces pain over the inner thigh and may be accompanied by tingling or numbness.
Symptoms typically resolve on its own, without any further treatments. Some cases may require surgical intervention to remove the source of compression or pressure on the nerves.
This type has a more intense level of pain. The discomfort is often felt beyond the region of the thighs. There may be discomfort over the outer thigh that spreads to the buttocks and the groin. The discomfort may even be felt as far up as over the rib cage.
Compression of the nerve is more likely from the following causes:
- Anatomical variations
- Prolonged wearing of tight seat belt or belt
Pain often becomes more severe with prolonged standing or wit athletic activities. Relief is most often by wearing loose clothing. Removing belts also helps. For some, losing some weight can help ease off the compressing pressure on the nerve.
Supplements may also be an effective relief measure from this type of inner thigh pain. The compound alpha lipoic acid may help provide relief. Studies on this compound found out that relief might be achieved with daily intake of alpha lipoic acid supplements, at a dose of 600 mg. this is taken twice daily. Some people report relief with lower dosages. It would be better to consult a doctor for choosing dosages.
Restless Leg Syndrome
The RLS is gaining more attention over the last few years. People experiencing RLS have a difficult time describing their symptoms. Recent studies finally started to give a clearer idea on what restless leg syndrome is. With the increase in knowledge, a new name is starting to be used for this condition. The RLS is also called WED or Willis-Ekbom Disease.
The name Willis from WED stands for Sir Thomas Willis. He was a doctor who first described this problem in 1672. For the next 300 years, very few medical practitioners ever gave this condition any attention, until recently. Recent studies are shedding more light on RLS, resulting in the development of new criteria for better diagnosis.
So far, RLS can be described as:
- Irresistible desire to move the legs
- An uncomfortable sensation over the legs, such as a burning, itching, crawling or tingling sensation
- Discomfort is often at its worst during the night, dwindling to almost imperceptible in the morning
- Discomfort and/or pain typically starts when at rest or keeping still
- Discomfort often fades with movement, such as when stretching or walking
For WED/RLS, medications may be given. However, one of the main management is through diet. Most people suffering from WED/RLS also have food sensitivities, particularly with gluten. Symptoms typically improve, including pain, when a gluten-free diet is followed.
Iron supplementation also seems to help those suffering from WED/RLS. Symptoms may also improve with calcium and magnesium supplementation. This can produce significant improvements in leg sensations. High doses of folic acid and 400-800 units of vitamin E per day are also known to help.
Femoral Nerve Dysfunction
This condition may cause burning sensation and pressure in the inner thighs. This is characterized by damage to the femoral nerve. This also results in the loss of sensation or movement in the thigh.
Injuries to this nerve may be caused by a number of factors. It may be caused by the presence of masses or tumors. It may also be from certain injuries, such as trauma that hit both muscle tissues and nerves. Chronic or extended periods of placing pressure on the nerves may also cause femoral nerve dysfunction.
Full recovery from this condition is possible. It only needs proper identification of the cause followed by appropriate management. Some cases, however, end up in significant decrease in sensation or movement of the affected area.
General Remedies for Pain in the Inner Thigh
Aside from targeting the specific causes of pain in this area, you can try a few more things.
Hot Bath: A hot bath can help in relaxing the muscles. The warm temperature can help in unraveling the knots or trigger points. It also helps in promoting better blood flow to the tissues. This will bring more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, improving health and function. Better blood flow will also help in flushing the muscles of accumulate wastes and lactic acid. Accumulation of lactic acid can lead to poor muscle contraction and cause conditions such as cramps and knots.
When you get into a hot bath, make sure that it is not scalding. Extremely hot water baths can lead to burns. In addition, hot baths will not be able to relieve severe pain. This can only work for mild pains.
Massage Oils: The inner thigh can be massaged with herbal oils. These oils can help relax the muscles. Some may contain compounds that can reduce inflammation. Examples are primrose, mustard and olive oil.
You may choose the massage oils based on their natural therapeutic characteristics to be more helpful in relieving the pain. Some of the good oils are:
Lavender essential oils are widely popular as a relaxing essential oil. It also has analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions that can relieve sore muscles. Applied over the hips and thighs, this oil can help with pain relief from muscular strain and inflammation.
To use lavender essential oils as massage, it has to be mixed with a carrier oil first. Pure undiluted oils may be irritating to the skin. It may also cause more problems than help relieve pain and inflammation within the muscles. Commonly used carrier oils are castor oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil and olive oil. Mix about 10 to 15 drops of lavender essential oil to about one cup of the chosen carrier oil. Add a small amount of the mixture over the affected area and massage until relief is felt.
Lavender essential oil may also be added to a hot bath. As discussed earlier, hot baths can help relieve tension and spasms in the muscles. Adding essential oils like lavender oil can further increase the therapeutic benefits of this method.
Chamomile essential oils extracted from Matricariachamomilla (German chamomile) is more soothing to the muscles. It has an anti-inflammatory action that can help relieve pain.
The anti-inflammatory action of German chamomile essential oil is due to the compound called chamazulene. This is the same compound that gives the oil's characteristic color. This compound acts on the muscles, relieving spasms that cause pain, such as in lower back pain, PMS and pain in the inner thighs.
Peppermint essential oil applied topically over painful muscles can help with pain relief. The menthol active ingredient can help reduce tension and spasms of the muscles. The refreshing aroma also helps in relieving stress that may be contributing to tension in the muscles.
Rosemary essential oilscome from the Rosmarinus officinalis shrub, the same one where the rosemary leaves used in cooking comes from. This essential oil is known to reduce pain over the joint and muscle soreness. This is also very helpful in the relief of symptoms from rheumatoid arthritis. Eucalyptus oil
This is a popular ingredient in oils and liniments used to relieve muscle pain from various causes. Eucalyptus oil has strong anti-inflammatory actions that effectively relieve pain from muscular injuries. This is very strong and must be diluted with a carrier oil first before application on the skin. Otherwise, there will be skin irritation and some burning sensation that can exacerbate pain in the thighs.
Juniper Essential Oil: The essential oil is extracted from the berries of Juniperuscommunis, a blue-green evergreen tree. Juniper essential oil is used to treat various types of pain, such as pain from colitis, dysmenorrhea and hemorrhoids. It can also be applied on the skin for pain relief. It can be massaged over the thighs and knees to help relieve rheumatoid pain.
Wintergreen Essential Oil: The evergreen shrub Gaultheria procumbens that grows in North America is the source of wintergreen oil. This is a common ingredient in a lot of liniments and patches used for relieving muscle and joint pains. This is also an excellent massage oil for relief of bone pains and neuralgia*. Muscle pain due to sports injuries and pain from arthritis are also commonly treated with wintergreen oil.
*Neuralgia is pain felt due to damage on the peripheral nerves. The pain is often characterized as a stabbing and burning feeling over the involved area. The pain can be of severe quality.
When using wintergreen essential oil over the skin, always dilute first with a carrier oil. This can be irritating to the skin if applied in its pure and undiluted form.
Cayenne Essential Oil: Cayenne pepper seeds are used as the source for this spicy hot essential oil. The active compound here is capsaicin. This gives the hotness of peppers. It is also responsible for many health benefits from hot peppers.
This oil can help relieve pain, even the severe types. Topically, cayenne essential oil can help with the pain management of neuralgia and joint pains such as from rheumatism and arthritis.
This essential oil is very potent. The oil is much more viscous than most other essential oils. A single drop with a cup or so of light carrier oils such as coconut oil.
Ginger Essential Oil: This is more popularly used as digestive, especially the fresh extracts. The essential oil can also be used to relieve pain. This can be helpful, especially from autoimmune disorders such as lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Ginger essential oil is one of the very few essential oils that can be taken internally. It can also be applied safely over inflamed and painful joints and muscles, even for extended periods.
Sandalwood Essential Oil: This essential oil is among the most expensive oils. It is extracted from the heart of Santalum album or the sandalwood tree. High quality oils are extracted from a tree that is 50 years old and older.
This pricey essential oil is worth having because of its potent anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties. This has very strong pain relief actions for neuralgia (nerve pain), skeletal pain and muscular pain. With pain in the inner thighs, applying sandalwood essential oil for massage will address any type of condition that causes the pain. Sandalwood can also be taken as tea on a daily basis. A cup of water with 3 drops of this precious essential oil can help with pain relief.
Clove Essential Oil: The essential oil is extracted from the cloves of Syzygiumaromaticum. The cloves are the unopened buds from this tropical tree. This oil has an exceptionally pungent, spicy aroma. Applying the pure and undiluted oil over the skin will produce a burning sensation followed immediately by numbness. This numbness (anesthetic effect) is helpful in providing instant relief due to acute pain.
To use for the management of muscle and joint pains from overexertion, mix with a carrier oil. Mix a few drops of clove oil to olive oil or jojoba oil. Apply the mixture to the painful area for relief.
Wear Warm, Loose Fitting Clothes: To prevent constriction of the nerves and muscles, you may use loose warm clothing. This will keep the inner thigh muscles warmed while reducing discomfort. This remedy can also help in keeping pain from becoming worse.
Engage in Low Impact Sports: This can help in stretching and strengthening the muscles. This is important in restoring function to the affected muscles. This also helps in preventing recurrence of muscle injury that lead to pain in the inner thighs.
Vitamins and Minerals: Supplement with zinc, magnesium and calcium, along with other vital vitamins and minerals. These can help speed up healing and recovery of affected muscles. These can also contribute to relief from inner thigh pain.
Inner thigh pain can be mild to severe and debilitating. So many factors contribute to the development of pain. The simplest thing you can do to avoid this is to take care of your muscles. Avoid anything that may constrict, compress, restrict, over stretch, or place the associated bones, muscles and joints from coming out of proper alignment. Taking care of your overall health is also important.
- "Thigh Pain: Where is it Coming From & What to Do?". DR. Peter Borten, LAC, DAOM. http://peterborten.com/thigh-pain-coming/. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017.
- "Groin Strain". Health Communities. http://www.healthcommunities.com/sprains-and-strains/groin-strain.shtml. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017.
- "Most Common Inner Thigh Pain Causes". Carla E. Larson - Certified Athletic Trainer and Therapist, WatchFit. http://watchfit.com/general-health/injury/inner-thigh-pain-causes/. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017.
- "15 Essential Oils To Instantly Relieve Pain & How To Use Them". Natural Living Ideas. http://www.naturallivingideas.com/essential-oils-for-pain-relief/. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017.
- "Inguinal hernia". Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/inguinal-hernia/home/ovc-20206354. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017.
- "Femoral nerve dysfunction". MedlinePlus, National Institutes of Health U.S. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000687.htm. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
JR Krishna from India on January 31, 2017:
Very detailed and well written article.
Very impressive ....
RoadMonkey on January 31, 2017:
An extremely comprehensive hub on thigh pain. Very well written.