Pectineus Muscle Strain and Trigger Point Pain: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

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Pectineus Pain Pattern: Contributes to pain in the groin, pelvis, and top of the front of the thigh.

Pectineus Muscle Pain: Signs and Symptoms

The pectineus muscle contributes to pain in the thigh, groin, and hip. Pectineus pain is commonly due to one of two factors: a muscle strain or trigger points in the muscle. Though strains and trigger point pain have signs and symptoms in common, there are differences that are important to know so you can properly treat the muscle pain.

Pectineus Strain Signs and Pain

Pain caused by a pectineus strain injury will usually cause immediate sharp pain in a localized area. Moderate to severe strains can be debilitating, limit movement, and weight bearing. Mild strains can produce sharp pain but allow movement of the thigh and weight bearing on the leg. Some of the signs include:

  • A tearing or pop is usually felt in the muscle
  • Immediate sharp pain is felt in the inside of the upper thigh and/or the groin, pelvis and occasionally toward the hip joint
  • Moving the thigh is extremely painful
  • Moving the legs apart is painful
  • Pain increases when you bend the knee and lift it toward your chest
  • Walking is painful. If the strain is moderate to severe putting weight on the leg may be impossible due to pain and weakness
  • Swelling is evident soon after the injury
  • Bruising of the upper and inside of the thigh

Pectineus Trigger Points Signs and Pain

Trigger point pain is usually more of an ache, though there can be sharp pain with certain movements. Trigger points in the pectineus muscle can cause pain in the groin, pelvis, genitalia, as well as pain that feels like it is originating in the hip joint. Some of the signs are:

  • Pain in the fold where the leg joins the body
  • Pain sometimes feels as if it is originating in the hip joint
  • Groin pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain when standing from a sitting position
  • Pain increases when walking
  • Pain increases when trying to take long steps
  • Opening and/or closing the legs is painful, sometimes causing a sharp pain
  • Sleeping with a pillow between the knees eases the pain

Keep in mind that trigger points often develop as a result of an injury.

Muscle man doing the splits

Moving the legs too far apart whether it is side to side or front to back as in the splits can strain the pectineus muscle.

What Causes Pectineus Strain Injury?

Pectineus muscle strains occur when the legs are forcefully separated side to side or front to back. Some examples are:

  • Slipping on a slippery surface when your legs separate side to side or one leg raises forcefully up toward your head
  • Planting a foot and executing a hard pivot or turn
  • Running and slipping
  • Kicking a ball ie. football and soccer
  • Running and launching into a jump
  • Splits stretch and pull the muscle often causing tears

Sports and activities that contribute to pectineus injury:

  • Hockey
  • Soccer
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Runners
  • Power Walkers
  • Gymnasts

Pectineus Strain Treatment

Mild to low scale moderate pectineus muscle strains can be treated at home using the P.R.I.C.E protocol. However, if these conditions occur it is time to seek medical help:

  • Unbearable pain
  • Immediate and excessive swelling and bruising
  • Inability to move the leg or put limited weight on the leg without excruciating pain.
  • If pain, redness, swelling, and heat around the injury have not decreased in 24 hours a trip to the doctor is recommended.

It is important to start the P.R.I.C.E. protocol as soon as possible.

  • Protect the injury – Limit movement and weight bearing of the leg ASAP. Use a bandage or wrap to help stabilize the injured area.
  • Rest – Not only rest the leg but get extra sleep. Sleep is when much of the healing occurs.
  • Ice – Treatments of 20 minutes every 1-2 hours until redness and swelling have reduced. Using ice for more than 20 minutes is discouraged as extreme cold can damage soft tissues.
  • Compression – Applying pressure to the injured muscle reduces inflammation and provides support.
  • Elevate – Keep the leg elevated with pillows and folded blankets. It is important to spend time laying on your back with your leg propped up above your heart. This reduces swelling and helps with circulation.

After the redness, heat, and swelling have reduced you can alternate cold and heat treatments. Use cold then wait for 1-2 hours and use heat. Again treatment time should be kept to 20 minutes.

How Long Does It Take A Pectineus Muscle Strain To Heal?

A mild Grade I pectineus strain can heal in 2-3 weeks with moderate activity resuming within comfort levels in 5-7 days. Moderate Grade II strains can take a minimum of 6-8 weeks to fully heal and activities are resumed upon the advisement of a doctor or physical therapist. A complete tear or Grade III strain usually requires surgery can take several months to a year to fully heal. Activity levels for Grade III should be monitored by a medical professional.

TWD Suggestions For Pectineus Strains

The Simple Spectra Clay Hot/Cold Wrap provides a consistent temperature as well as compression which is important for reducing swelling and aiding in faster recovery. The wrap can also be used on other areas of the body.

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Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel for muscle strains.  It cools the area much like ice discouraging inflammation. Provides excellent pain relief between cold treatments.

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The Odofit Support Brace is one of the best for thigh and groin pain and injury. The brace has 3 adjustable straps that allow you to adjust the compression to your needs.  The waistband holds the brace in place.

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Tips To Avoid Pectineus Strains

  • Take time to warm up before exercise, sports, and other strenuous activities. Those few minutes of preparation can save days and weeks of pain and discomfort.
  • When lifting, use proper technique. Keep your feet and legs aligned with your shoulders.
  • Do not stretch or load the muscle past its capacity. There is a fine line between stressing the muscle to promote growth and increase strength and injury, when in doubt stop.
  • Take recovery days. Give the muscles time to rest and recover.
  • Be careful when maneuvering icy and slick surfaces. Wear appropriate footwear for your sport and surface conditions.


What Causes Trigger Points To Develop In The Pectineus Muscle:

  • Pain in the fold where the leg joins the body
  • Groin pain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain increases when walking
  • Pain increases when trying to take long steps
  • Sleeping with a pillow between the knees eases the pain

How To Avoid Development of Trigger Points In The Pectineus Muscle

  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Make a conscious effort to get up move, stretch and walk around.
  • Drastically limit the time spent sitting with your legs crossed at the knees.
  • Don’t sit with your feet propped up for an extended amount of time. Make a habit of sitting with your feet planted on the floor.
  • Be extra careful when walking on icy and slippery surfaces.
  • Take time to warm up before exercise and strenuous activities.
  • When horseback riding take breaks, get off and walk.
  • The muscles of the inner thigh are extremely stressed after hip replacement surgery. Be open with your doctor and physical therapist about the pain and sensations that you feel throughout recovery and rehab.

Pectineus Trigger Point Treatment

Many, but not all massage therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors can show you how to find and treat trigger points. Be sure to ask if they have the training before making an appointment.

Another option is to learn to self-treatment. Trigger point therapy works best when the trigger points are treated two or three times a day for 1-2 minutes per treatment. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook is an excellent resource to learn this therapy. It takes practice to find the trigger points, but once you learn you will be able to relieve and eliminate muscle pain throughout the body.

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the pectineus muscle:

Satellite trigger points associated with the pectineus muscle:


How Long Before I Feel A Reduction In Pain?

It depends on the trigger point(s), but there is often improvement in 2-5 days. You will notice that you are moving better, your range of motion is improving and the pain has decreased. Treatment consistency is the key to optimal results.

TWD Suggestions For Pectineus Strains

If you are interested in learning about and relieving your muscle pain I highly suggest that you buy The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. It provides you with the knowledge and techniques to relieve muscle pain throughout the body.

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Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that is highly recommended for trigger point pain, chronic pain relief, and muscle relaxation. Provides warmth without burning (not sold in stores).

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Compression shorts provide support and pressure which can help relieve both pectineus strain and trigger point pain. The CW-X Women’s Mid Rise Stabilyx and the Men’s Mava Men’s Compression Short are two that work well for the pectineus muscle.

Men Women

The ComfiLife Knee Pillow was developed for side sleepers to keep your leg aligned with your hip and spine. This will decrease your pain allowing you to get the sleep you need.

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Where is the pectineus muscle?

The pectineus connects to the pubis bone to the top of the thigh bone (femur).

What movements does the pectineus muscle control?

  • Moves the thigh in toward the body
  • Twists the thigh toward the body
  • Moves the thigh forward

Pectineus Anatomy Info

Looking for detailed muscle anatomy? The Pectineus Muscle Anatomy page has origin, insertion, innervation, and blood supply information. It also lists agonist and antagonists for each muscle action.

Diagram of the pectineus muscle

You use the pectineus muscle when you twist your thigh inward and when you move your thigh forward.

Interesting facts about the pectineus muscle:

  • The pectineus is the highest muscle of the inner thigh
  • Pectineus is derived from the Latin word pecten meaning comb. The shape, size, and ridges in the muscle resemble the long tooth combs that women used to wear in their hair.
  • Women experience pectineus pain more often than men.
  • The pectineus is often injured when a person starts a regimen of power walking. During power walking, a person will often extend their stride, reaching farther than they would in a normal stride. Over extension while walking or running can stain the pectineus.

Pectineus Muscle Pain and Symptoms Can Be Similar To, Contribute To, and Be Affected By These Medical diagnoses:

  • Hip joint disease
  • Pulled groin
  • Pubic Stress symphysitis
  • L1 L2 L3 or L4 radiculopathy


Donna Martin

Massage Therapist Owner: Twelve years of experience working with clients with chronic pain, post injury pain, and post surgery pain. Muscle dysfunction is often overlooked but can hold the key to many pain conditions.

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