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

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

Published: January, 2020

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.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »