The lymphatic (body) system is a vast, complex network of capillaries, thin vessels, ducts, nodes, and organs that help protect and maintain the internal fluid environment of the entire body by producing, filtering, and conveying lymph and producing various blood cells. The lymphatic network also transports fats, proteins, and other substances to the blood system and restores 60 percent of the fluid that filters out of the blood capillaries into interstitial spaces during normal metabolism. Special lymphatic organs are the tongue, tonsils, thymus and spleen.
Lymph nodes are one of the many small oval structures that filter the lymph and fight infection where the white blood cells (leucocytes)—the most obvious—lymphocytes, monocytes, and plasma cells are formed. The lymph nodes are of different sizes, some as tiny as pinheads and others can be lima bean size. Each node is enclosed in a capsule. Most lymph nodes are clustered in areas such as the mouth, behind the ears, under the jaw and chin at the upper left/right neck, lower arm, the axilla (armpit, underarm), stomach, the prominence on the back of the head (occiput), and the lymph nodes in groin. They can become firm, hard, and tender when swollen and are painful. Lymph nodes are also called lymph glands.
What Causes Swollen Lymph Nodes in the Groin?
When lymph nodes are abnormal in size, it is known as lymphadenopathy. Due to an injury, infection, or a malignant tumor (cancer), the node or cluster of lymph nodes in the specific area of concern work hard to filter the bad cells from the body. Detailed signs might help spearhead the problems.
The lymph nodes in groin (known as inguinal or femoral) might swell due to infection or an injury in the genitals, leg, foot, or groin region. Lymphoma (malignant Hodgkin Lymphoma Disease or non-Hodgin), testicular cancer or melanoma could produce in the groin a lump. There are two ways in which cancer can raise its ugly head:
- It can start in the lymph nodes in the groin or it can spread (metastasis) from other parts of the body.
- Lymphoma is cancer that could start in the lymph nodes, but typically, it begins elsewhere and continues to the lymph nodes.
Frequent causes of swollen lymph nodes in groin showing enlargement and swelling as noted above could include:
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
A swollen lymph node in the groin and/or enlargement might appear on one side only. Lymph nodes measuring 1 cm (0.39 inches) in diameter are thought to be normal. Some authorities maintain that inguinal (groin) nodes larger than 1.5 cm (0.59 inches) be classified as abnormal or atypical. After surgical intervention, any pain or tenderness that indicated inflammation or infection should subside after healing.
There are less daunting causes for a swollen lymph node in groin and the concerns could be:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) if stress induced, recurrent, or associated with food
- Gynecological and ovarian symptoms
- Appendicitis if an elevation in the white blood cell count and fever (may be physician discounted)
- Urinary tract Infection (UTI) (may be physician discounted)
- The doctor will need your complete medical history. You will be asked when your swollen lymph nodes started and what your symptoms were.
- A physical examination will be conducted by your physician to check lymph nodes for tenderness, warmth, size, and texture. This will be done near the skin surface. Clues will be evident at the site of the swollen lymph nodes along with other symptoms.
- Blood tests (CBC—Complete Blood Count) for determining if your white blood cell count is elevated indicating infection and will show other conditions such as leukemia.
- X-rays and/or computerized tomography (CT) scan of the questionable area for identifying potential tumors or sources of infection.
- Biopsy of swollen lymph nodes in groin or other suspicious nodes: It might be necessary to take a sample from the node or an entire node for examination under a microscope with analysis returned to your doctor. This occurs when your doctor cannot identify the cause and form a diagnostic opinion.
How Are Swollen Lymph Nodes in Groin Diagnosed?
Muscle, tendon, or ligament strain is the most familiar type of groin pain. These types of athletic strains are most significant in the sports of football, soccer, hockey, and sometimes basketball. The pain might start immediately or over a period of days, weeks, or months. Continued use of the injured area can be aggravated by continuing the sport that caused the injury. A lesser amount of causes for groin pain can be a hernia, fracture, or bone injury to include kidney stones that may cause groin pain.
Groin and testicle pain are dissimilar. Occasionally, a testicle condition might cause referral pain into the groin region.
Treatment and Drugs for Swollen Lymph Nodes in Groin
Viruses can cause swollen lymph nodes. Antibiotics are used only for bacterial infections and serve no purpose with viruses. Expect a return to normalcy once the virus clears up. Swollen lymph node(s) treatment depends on the reasons for having it:
- Bacterial infection: Antibiotics is the customary treatment.
- HIV infection: You will be given the proper drugs for that problem
- Cancer: If nodes are swollen because of cancer, treatment will be required for the cancer and treatment may be radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery depending on the type of cancer.
- Immune system: Lymph nodes can swell from a compromised immune system with illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) an autoimmune disease where the immune system, by mistake, attacks healthy tissue. You will be provided treatment for the condition.
Home Remedies and Lifestyle
You want to find a measure of relief for your painful and tender lymph nodes. Try these soothing remedies:
- Sit in a warm tub and cover your groin with a large fluffy towel.
- Put a hot washcloth rung out to be warm to the area of concern. Or use a hot water bottle wrapped in a damp warm cloth. Do not put the hot water bottle directly on your skin.
- Over-the-counter pain medication: Aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, IB and more), acetaminophen (Tylenol, more) might help with your pain.
- Try to get enough rest: Turn on the TV and doze off in your recliner or on the sofa. Rest helps the body to heal.