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Round Ligament Pain During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatments

Round ligament pain is characterised by cramps and pain caused due to contractions and stretching of the round ligaments during pregnancy. Round ligaments are part of the female reproductive system made with both fibrous and muscular connective tissues. It looks like a round band of rope that helps support the uterus and keep the organ at its place by joining the front of the uterus to the groin regions.

Round ligament pain is common during pregnancy, especially during the second trimester when the belly size increases and causes round ligaments to stretch. The pain is rare in non-pregnant women. [1]

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In short, round ligaments are like rubber bands that stretch in response to the growth of the stomach during pregnancy and may cause pain when they get tense and overextended.

In this article, we will discuss round ligament pain that occurs during pregnancy. Take a look.

Causes Of Round Ligament Pain

The main cause of round ligament pain is a progression of pregnancy that causes the ligaments to stretch, tighten or become soft, irritating surrounding nerve fibres and triggering pain and discomfort.

Experts say that this type of pain during pregnancy is common in women and also, the pain is temporary. It is different from other types of abdominal pains during pregnancy as it usually occurs during certain physical movements such as suddenly changing the position or getting up from the chair, and vanishes soon when the comfortable position is taken.

However, if you notice excruciating pain every time you make a movement that exists longer, consult a medical expert as this could be a sign of other complications such as placental abruption or preterm labour.

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Symptoms Of Round Ligament Pain

  • Pain on one side of the abdomen, typically on the right side in the lower abdomen. [1]
  • Sudden spasm in the hip or stomach area.
  • Pain while changing positions in bed.
  • Pain while rapid movements or suddenly getting up from a resting position.
  • Pain due to vigorous physical activity.
  • Pain while sneezing or coughing.
  • Pain while laughing.
  • Dull ache while performing minor activities like walking for longer periods.

Note: Round ligament pain can be different for different pregnant women. Also, women who are pregnant for the first time may experience a bit more pain compared to women who are pregnant for the second or third time.

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Diagnosis Of Round Ligament Pain

The diagnosis of round ligament pain can be confusing. Experts say that if the pain in the pelvis region is followed by other symptoms such as the ones mentioned below, immediate medical attention is needed to avoid any complications. The symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Pain while urinating
  • Burning sensation while urinating.
  • Foul-smelling urine.
  • Chills
  • Severe cramps
  • Premature contractions that don't end even in an hour.
  • Extreme back pain
  • Vaginal spotting or bleeding. [2]
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Increased pelvic pressure.
  • Difficulties in walking or minor activities.

Note: The aforementioned symptoms could be the result of problems like infections, inguinal hernia [3] sexually transmitted diseases, preterm labour, pregnancy constipation and many others. Consult a medical expert and explain all the symptoms for proper diagnosis.

Treatments Of Round Ligament Pain

The best way to treat round ligament pain is to avoid activities that cause the condition. Some of the treatment methods may include:

  • Medications: It includes medications like acetaminophen which is among the most prescribed analgesics during pregnancy to reduce round ligament pain.
  • Lifestyle habits: It includes habits like performing pelvic tilt exercise, resting, not performing vigorous activities or avoid lifting heavy objects during pregnancy. [4]
  • Others: Such as using maternity supporting garments.

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How To Manage Round Ligament Pain?

  • Use a warm compress in the pelvic region to ease the pain. [5]
  • Avoid sudden activities such as getting up too fast or walking too fast.
  • Perform certain exercises like pelvic tilt exercise or prenatal yoga to get relief from the pain caused due to stretch.
  • Avoid standing for long hours.
  • Avoid lifting anything heavy.
  • While laughing or sneezing or coughing, try to bend forward a bit, flex the hips and put a hand under the belly for support.
  • Avoid sudden rolling in the bed and do it slowly.
  • Perform light massage in the pain area.
  • Take a warm bath twice or thrice a week.
  • Use maternity belts to support the stomach and prevent back pain.

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To Conclude

Round ligament pain is a harmless condition during pregnancy and does not cause harm to the baby. However, it can cause complications in mothers if occurred for a prolonged period or is followed by other symptoms.

Also, round ligament pain usually goes away after the delivery, as the uterus and ligaments get back to their original size. Consult a medical expert to get a detailed view of this condition and how to deal with it.