The groin triangle: a patho-anatomical approach to the diagnosis of chronic groin pain in athletes

Br J Sports Med. 2009 Mar;43(3):213-20. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2007.042259. Epub 2008 Nov 19.


Chronic groin pain is a common presentation in sports medicine. It is most often a problem in those sports that involve kicking and twisting movements while running. The morbidity of groin pain should not be underestimated, ranking behind only fracture and anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in terms of time out of training and play. Due to the insidious onset and course of pathology in the groin region it commonly presents with well-established pathology. Without a clear clinical/pathological diagnosis, the subsequent management of chronic groin pain is difficult. The combination of complex anatomy, variability of presentation and the non-specific nature of the signs and symptoms make the diagnostic process problematical. This paper proposes a novel educational model based on patho-anatomical concepts. Anatomical reference points were selected to form a triangle, which provides the discriminative power to restrict the differential diagnosis and form the basis of ensuing investigation. This paper forms part of a series addressing the three-dimensional nature of proximal lower limb pathology. The 3G approach (groin, gluteal and greater trochanter triangles) acknowledges this, permitting the clinician to move throughout the region, considering pathologies appropriately.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Groin / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Pain / etiology*