When one is referring to the swollen glands within the groin area, he/she is referring to the lymph nodes that are found in the groin on the either side of the genitals. Doctors refer to these as the inguinal lymph nodes. Along with inguinal, cervical lymph nodes (head, face, and neck) and axillary lymph nodes (armpits) make the lymphatic system. Inguinal lymph nodes (12-20) in the groin region can easily swell due to various lymphatic system diseases.
Lymphatic system acts as the secondary line of defense of the body. When the watery part of the blood, i.e., plasma seeps out of the blood vessels and collects between the interstitial spaces between the tissues, it is the lymphatic system that collects this fluid and returns it to the circulatory system. The fluid, which is called lymph, also contains microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, or fungus, which are acted upon by the white blood cells (WBC) in the lymph nodes. On detection of micro-organisms, immune system raises an alarm and sends additional WBCs to where the action is taking place.
Most of the lymph nodes are small in size, and increased amount of WBC's and blood in them gives rise to swollen glands. The inguinal lymph nodes connect in the vicinity of the inguinal ligament and drains buttock, lower limb, subcutaneous tissues in the outer genitalia, abdomen, and skin. If the function of the lymph nodes in the groin is disturbed, then the genital fluids are not cleared, leading to swelling and inflammation, which is further complicated by the toxin concentration in the area.
Sometimes the WBCs fails to clear the micro-organisms and get infected. This leads to their inflammation, which can be local or widespread, and swelling. Such a condition is described as lymphadenitis, and the swelling of a lymph node is described using the term lymphadenopathy.
Following is a list of causes of swollen lymph glands in groin:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Infectious Mononucleosis
- Hodgkin's disease
- Gaucher's disease
- Connective Tissue Disease
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Injury or infection in the foot, leg, groin, or genitals
- Testicular cancer
- Parasite Infections
- Silicone Particles
Most commonly, the culprits responsible for giving an individual swollen glands are viruses. These include rubella, mumps, measles, ear infection, chickenpox, strep throat, etc. Infections such as tuberculosis, cat scratch fever, toxoplasmosis, and a host of sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) can also cause swollen inguinal lymph nodes.
Whatever the cause, one must visit the doctor to get it inspected. He/she may palpate the area during the physical examination to locate the exact position of the swollen lymph nodes in groin. The doctor may advise biopsy, cystoscopy, or proctoscopy if he/she suspects cancer of lymph nodes as the cause.
The result of the biopsy will help the doctor in advising you on the future course of action. In case of women, the swollen glands in the groin area may be because of vulvar cancer. It is the cancer of the vulva, which spreads to the surrounding as well as distant organs. The groin's lymph nodes, after being invaded by the vulvar cancer, swell. If it is the case, then detecting the cancer cells in the lymph nodes can be useful in knowing the spread of the cancer.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.