Inflammation of the inguinal ligament


The inguinal ligament, also known as the inguinal ligament or the Vesalius ligament, is a connection between the iliac and the shear bone. It defines a space in which important vessels, nerves and muscles run. Groin pain can result from a strain or overstretching of the groin ligament. Inflammation of the inguinal ligament usually refers to such a strain or overstretching, since inflammations of other causes are rarely found on the inguinal ligament.

The reasons

Strains or overstretching of the inguinal ligament are mostly due to sporting activities and training. Everyday movements are usually not enough to overload the inguinal ligament.
Athletes who are often affected by groin pain include soccer players. The inguinal ligament can be inflamed as a result of muscle imbalances, overstretching during spreading or straddle movements or acute injuries. This is also possible in other sports in which there is stretching and stress in the groin area, such as kickboxing or hurdling. The inguinal ligament can be subjected to excessive strain over a long period of time or excessively strained in an acute situation. The tissue reacts locally with swelling and pain.

Meralgia paraesthetica as the cause

Meralgia paraesthetica is a pain syndrome that occurs when a nerve is compressed. The compressed nerve is a small superficial cutaneous nerve that is only responsible for the sensitivity of a small area of ​​skin on the outer thigh. The nerve runs directly in the fibers of the inguinal ligament and is therefore in a cramped, superficial and vulnerable position. If the nerve is pressurized in its course, abnormal sensations arise in the thigh area, which are noticeable as tingling, pins and needles, numbness, pain and changes in the tendency to sweat and hairiness of the skin area.

The compression of the nerve can be caused by tight pants and belts, thickened tendons, ligaments and muscles, obesity, pregnancy and other changes in the anatomy of the groin region. The nerve should be relieved as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage to the sensitivity.

For more information, read on: Meralgia paresthetica.

The diagnosis

Inflammation of the inguinal ligament is clinically diagnosed. This means that the inflammation can be determined just by examining and talking to the patient. Further diagnostics, such as imaging, are often not necessary.

Tension pain in the groin is typical for inflammation of the inguinal ligament. A bruise in this area can also indicate an acute injury. Some exercise tests are done to rule out other causes, such as a broken bone. In some cases, for example to detect a tear in the ligament, an MRI image is necessary. There the extent of the injury can be easily assessed. The discussion with the patient is also important for establishing the diagnosis, as possible causes such as sporting activities can be found there.

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The symptoms

Inflammation of the inguinal ligament generally leads to pain in the groin area. The pain has a stabbing and pulling character and can vary in intensity. Pulling in the groin during certain movements, for example when spreading the leg or taking large steps, can also be an indication of inflammation of the inguinal ligament. Pressure on the inguinal ligament increases the pain.

Depending on the severity of the inflammation or the extent of the injury, the pain may already be present while walking. With additional strain on the adductors of the thigh, the so-called "groin strain", the pain can be increased by pressure on the muscles. In addition, movements such as leg rotation are then also restricted. Bruising is also an indication of additional strain on the adductors.

Read something on the subject here: Burning in the groin.

The pain as a symptom

In addition to the typical signs of inflammation, pain also occurs when there is inflammation in the inguinal ligament. The pain can be very different depending on the underlying cause. For example, inflammation caused by groin strains can cause sharp, movement-dependent pain.
When pelvic organs are involved, however, dull and long-lasting pain can also occur.

In order to alleviate the pain right from the start, the groin should be compressed, spared, cooled and elevated. This can also alleviate all of the inflammation. Furthermore, drug relief of pain and inflammation is an important part of the treatment alongside causal therapy. To this end, so-called "NSAIDs" such as ibuprofen, diclofenac or indomethacin can initially be used, which in addition to pain relief also reduce inflammation.

The treatment / therapy

In the event of inflammation of the inguinal ligament, physical protection is the top priority. In acute situations, ice compresses and immobilization of the legs help relieve pain and prevent the groin from swelling. Anti-inflammatory pain relievers, like ibuprofen and diclofenac, not only relieve pain, but also reduce the inflammatory response.

In the case of pronounced strains, physiotherapy, physiotherapy or heat treatments can help restore the function of the inguinal ligament. When the symptoms improve, training can be resumed with an initially low load. Sports medical advice can help to gently adapt the training to the symptoms.

The duration

An inflammation of the inguinal ligament should be treated with consistent care until it has healed. Even light stress can delay healing and lead to chronic stress on the inguinal ligament. The duration of the healing therefore depends on the cooperation of the person affected as well as on the strain on the inguinal ligament. However, an average duration of 2 weeks can be assumed. In the case of pronounced strains or even a tear, the duration can be several weeks.