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Groin strain vs. hernia pain: How to tell the difference

January 1, 2020

The pain is similar, but hernias often create a telltale lump beneath the skin.

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If you're an active person, you may attribute pain in the lower abdomen or groin to a muscle strain, especially if you experienced that kind of injury when you were younger.

Once you're older, it's more likely that groin pain is the result of a hernia — abdominal fat or part of the intestine poking through a hole in the abdominal wall. "In the vast majority of older adults, it's usually a hernia," says Dr. David Berger, a colorectal and gastrointestinal surgeon at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

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