Thigh Adductor Sprains: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

A thigh adductor sprain is a common injury among runners and hurdlers. However, it also occurs in other sports. Read along to find out more about thigh adductor sprains.
Thigh Adductor Sprains: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Last update: 22 September, 2020

A thigh adductor sprain usually refers to a set of injuries to the adductors of the lower limbs which serve the function of bringing the leg inwards. The function of the thigh abductor explains why it’s so frequently injured in certain disciplines. In this article, we’ll share all you need to know about this kind of injury.

In total there are three thigh adductors: the major, medium, and the small adductor. The adductors and the pectineus muscles are responsible for bringing the leg inwards.

When it comes to athletes, the median adductor is the most affected. The median adductor can become inflamed and it can also overstretch leading to a break in its fibers. The combination of symptoms that occur after this kind of injury is considered to be a sprain.

Causes of thigh adductor sprains

The sprain of the thigh adductors is usually due to its overuse due to excessive exertion. The overuse of the thigh adductors can be divided into two forms: acute and chronic.

Acute overuse consists of a stretch of the muscle that occurs at a point in time. It can be caused by a leg extension when trying to reach a ball in soccer for example. It can also be caused by a long-jump or poor landing technique.

On the other hand, chronic overuse is caused by the repetitive movement that affects the musculature. This affects the muscle’s performance gradually and eventually, it’ll undermine the integrity of the muscle fibers. This type of injury usually occurs in hurdle jumpers. This is due to their training and competition routines during which their muscles are under constant stress.

External trauma can also cause thigh adductor strains. An example of a traumatic sprain is when a player knocks into another player or when a player suffers a fall on a hard surface. External sprains occur less frequently than other types of sprains.

Man doing hurdles

There are certain risk factors that could lead to adductor sprains. Poor blood circulation for example has been found to cause sprains. Low blood supply to the muscle fibers makes them more susceptible to tear. This is the case with people who suffer from varicose syndromes.

Thigh adductor sprain symptoms

The initial sign of an adductor sprain is pain. The pain usually starts immediately after an injury and it’s localized around the inner thigh area. According to a study published in the Diagnostic and Intervention Imaging Journal, sprains are characterized by a stabbing pain. Upon palpation of the region, the usual pain increases.

If a significant number of fibers are torn, a bruise will appear. The collection of blood which causes the bruise will follow the usual process of color transformation and absorption. A danger that could arise at this phase is the solidification of the blood which can cause adhesion between muscles that usually work independently.

Functional impotence is explained by the syndrome itself. After an acute sprain, physical activity should be stopped immediately. The pain is often enough to limit movement completely. 

When it comes to chronic overuse, functional impotence usually occurs gradually. Mobility is usually limited due to the pain caused by the contraction of the muscle.

Thigh adductor sprain treatment

Thigh adductor sprains are usually treated with physical therapy. Although medication can be used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation, it’s rehabilitation therapy that’ll restore the damaged muscle to its full potential. 

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are often used to treat sprains. They can be used at the beginning, however, they shouldn’t be used for more than three days. Cold packs applied locally are also used to treat inflammation and pain.

When it comes to physiotherapy, it should only occur after completing a rest period. The muscle fibers must rest before the healing process begins.

Sports and other activities are completely contraindicated immediately after a sprain. According to research published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, surgery isn’t recommended. Surgery has been shown to slow down the recovery process while increasing risks.

Physiotherapist massage

After completing a rest period, it’ll then be time to start with techniques or exercises that the doctor or physiotherapist finds appropriate. The recommended exercises usually include:

  • Stretching: these kinesiology exercises should be performed under the pain range. They shouldn’t cause any discomfort.
  • Strengthening: it’s important to strengthen the thighs after an injury. This is particularly important when it comes to athletes. After the muscle has healed, strengthening exercises should be performed.

Injury prevention

As with many muscle injuries in sports, the key to prevention is to train in moderation without overexerting your muscles. Warming up before training and enjoying a balanced diet are also important ways to prevent sprains.

In conclusion, if you suffer from a thigh adductor strain, first complete the rest period, consult your medical professional if necessary. Secondly, follow your physiotherapist’s indications in order to make a full recovery.

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