The Layman’s Groin Triangle

22 April 2009

The Groin Trangle

I’ve tried everything shy of ritual sacrifice to solve this vexing groin problem. Now it has come to this: I’m reading medical journals. Normal folk waste their evenings with Facebook, YouTube and detective dramas. I read “The Groin Triangle: A Patho-Anatomical Approach to the Diagnosis of Chronic Groin Pain in Athletes.” Exciting stuff.

Written by professionals for professionals, medical journal articles like this are hopelessly dense. They’re full of esoteric terms like “anthropometric,” “trochanteric” and “tuberosity.” It took me less than three seconds to find these words after I randomly selected a typical three-sentence paragraph.

Technical jargon can be forgiven. But these articles habitually break the most sacred laws of sentence structure. I’m reading English, but it feels like German. I keep wondering when the verb will rear its fearful head. Such is the dilemma for the common man. How can one gain knowledge when it requires both an advanced degree and an interpreter?

Consider the abstract (introduction) for the article I’m currently reading:

(skimming recommended)
Chronic groin pain is a common presentation in sports medicine. It is most often a problem in those sports that involve kicking and twisting movements while running. The morbidity of groin pain should not be underestimated, ranking behind only fracture and anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction in terms of time out of training and play. Due to the insidious onset and course of pathology in the groin region it commonly presents with well-established pathology. Without a clear clinical/pathological diagnosis, the subsequent management of chronic groin pain is difficult. The combination of complex anatomy, variability of presentation and the non-specific nature of the signs and symptoms make the diagnostic process problematical. This paper proposes a novel educational model based on patho-anatomical concepts. Anatomical reference points were selected to form a triangle, which provides the discriminative power to restrict the differential diagnosis and form the basis of ensuing investigation. This paper forms part of a series addressing the three-dimensional nature of proximal lower limb pathology. The 3G approach (groin, gluteal and greater trochanter triangles) acknowledges this, permitting the clinician to move throughout the region, considering pathologies appropriately.

Remember, the abstract is the simplest part of an article. Call me crazy, but I’m still trying to find the verb in sentence four. Reading becomes more laborious in the body of the article. Unless you’re a trained grammarian, you’ll exhaust your patience quickly.

If you just want to learn about your groin injury? Never fear. I’ve rewritten the article’s introduction:

Groin pain is common and worse than you think. Injure your groin and you won’t run, play or compete for months. Forget about a straightforward diagnosis. The human groin is a class-A mystery with anatomy more complex than the plotline of LOST. Groin pain can be maddeningly difficult to pin down. It comes and goes and moves annoyingly from place to place. We triple-dog dare you to clearly describe your vague symptoms.

Your doctor is probably flummoxed, which doesn’t bode well for you. If she can’t figure out precisely what’s wrong, you’ll be up the proverbial creek. Inconclusive tests await. Kiss that deductible savings good bye.

But don’t despair! We have a way to solve this problem. It involves drawing an imaginary Triangle™. Really, that’s all you need to know. We’re pretty sure this will help but promise nothing.

I’ve submitted this rewrite to the authors. I’ve yet to hear back from them.

Longing to run again,
– Dean

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