Chronic obscure groin pain is commonly caused by enthesopathy: 'tennis elbow' of the groin

Br J Surg. 1994 Nov;81(11):1632-4. doi: 10.1002/bjs.1800811123.


Forty-nine patients with chronic obscure groin pain, bilateral in four, presented to one general surgeon in a 12-month period. Inflammation ('enthesopathy') at the pubic insertion of the inguinal ligament was the cause in 30 patients (32 groins). This has not previously been recognized as a cause of chronic groin pain, possibly because the exact site of tenderness can be obscured by the pubic pad of fat. Enthesopathy also occurred in five rectus and one adductor longus tendons (one patient had inflammation in both). Infiltration with long-acting steroid (1 per cent triamcinolone) and local anaesthetic (2 per cent lignocaine) was offered to all patients with localized tenderness of tendon or ligament. A questionnaire survey 3-15 months after injection showed a better outcome after treatment than when injection was declined. Other causes of pain included nerve entrapment (five cases), spinal referred pain (five in four patients) and ureteric stones (two). Inguinal hernia is sometimes coincidental rather than causative of the pain. In three patients the pain had subsided and no diagnosis was made. Simple diagnostic and therapeutic measures may relieve chronic groin pain and spare patients elaborate investigation or unnecessary operation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Groin*
  • Hernia, Inguinal / complications
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Ligaments*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / complications
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Spinal Diseases / complications
  • Tendinopathy / complications*