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Pectineus Muscle: Groin and Pelvic Pain

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 pectineus strains and trigger point pain have signs and symptoms in common, there are differences that you should know so you can assess and properly treat the pain.

Contents of Article

    Where Is The Pectineus Muscle?

    Pectineus Muscle

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

    What Movements Does It Control?

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

    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.


    Pectineus Muscle Trigger Points Symptoms:

    Pectineus Muscle Referred Pain

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

    • 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.

    TWD Recommends

    The ComfiLife Knee Pillow was developed for side sleepers to keep your leg aligned with your hip and spine, decreasing your pain while you sleep. Highly recommended for pectineus pain.

    What Causes Trigger Points In The Pectineus Muscle?

    • Slipping and/or falling
    • Doing the splits
    • Running
    • Gymnastics
    • Cross-over soccer kick
    • Horseback riding
    • Lifting with the legs far apart
    • Hip replacement surgery

    Trigger points often develop as a result of a muscle strain.

    TWD Recommends

    The Sparthos Thigh Compression Sleeve provides compression as well as support for the upper leg muscles. It stays in place, it does not slide down, the top doesn’t roll down and the bottom does not roll up during movement.

    How To Avoid Development of Trigger Points In The Pectineus

    • Avoid sitting for long periods. 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 stressed after hip replacement surgery. Be open with your doctor and physical therapist about the pain and sensations you feel throughout recovery and rehab.

    Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is recommended for relaxing muscles and relieving pain. It warms without the burning heat of other gels. An excellent choice for pain caused by trigger points, muscle/joint over-use and stiffness, and arthritis. (Not sold in stores)

    Biofreeze Professional Gel is recommended by medical professionals and trainers for the pain and symptoms of muscle strains. It provides excellent pain relief and may help reduce inflammation caused by a strain.

    Pectineus Trigger Point Treatment

    Location of Pectineus Trigger Point
    Pectineus muscle trigger point common location.

    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. 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.

    Trigger point therapy works best when the trigger points are treated two or three times a day for 1-2 minutes per treatment.

    TWD Recommends

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

    Interesting facts:

    • The pectineus is the highest muscle of the inner thigh
    • The word 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 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. Overextension 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:

    • Groin pull
    • Sprain/strain in thigh muscles
    • Hip joint disease
    • Pulled groin
    • Pubic Stress symphysitis
    • L1 L2 L3 or L4 radiculopathy


    Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

    Satellite trigger points associated with the pectineus muscle:

    If trigger points are found in the pectineus, check these muscles for trigger points:

    • Iliopsoas
    • Adductor Magnus
    • Adductor Brevis
    • Adductor Longus
    • Gracilis


    TWD Recommends

    Doctors and physical therapists often recommend TENS to relax the muscles and ease the pain. The Belifu TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator is highly recommended and an excellent choice for treating upper leg muscle pain.

    Pectineus Muscle Strain

    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.

    Symptoms of a Pectineus Strain:

    • 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

    TWD Recommends

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

    What Causes Pectineus Muscle Strains?

    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 Treatments

    Mild to 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 48 hours, it is time to seek medical help.

    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 lying on your back with your leg propped up above your heart. It will reduce swelling and help circulation.

    After the redness, heat, and swelling have decreased, 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.

    TWD Recommends

    TheraICE Rx Hot & Cold Therapy provides 360 degree cold and warm therapy. The sleeve provides compression, which helps reduce inflammation and pain. It is an excellent choice for upper leg strains and trigger point pain treatments.

    How Long Does It Take A Pectineus 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 heal. Activities are resumed at comfort level. If medical treatment was neccessary, activities should be cleared by doctor or 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.

    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.

    Muscles With Similar Pain Patterns

    Adductor Magnus
    Quadratus Lumborum
    Iliospsoas Muscles