Round ligament pain is a symptom that commonly occurs during the second trimester of pregnancy. Some individuals may be caught off guard by the said pain but this is normal and should not be cause for much concern.
Round ligaments are found in the pelvis that secures the uterus and most women will not encounter any issues with the aforementioned ligaments until their pregnancy. This is due to the increase in the size of the belly while being pregnant making the round ligaments respond to the increase in belly size through stretching.
Those women who are not pregnant have short and thick round ligaments. With pregnancy, the round ligaments can become taut and long. The aforementioned ligaments would usually loosen and contract slowly but pregnancy can change all that. This is because pregnancy can put in additional strain and pressure on the round ligaments making them much tenser similar to a rubber band that has been overextended. Rapid and sudden movement can cause the round ligaments to quickly tighten and pull the fibers on the nerve, resulting in extreme discomfort and pain.
What are the Symptoms of Round Ligament Pain?
Different people may experience different levels of pain in connection with round ligament pain. Women who are experiencing pregnancy for the first time may find the pain caused by round ligaments to be worrisome and assume that it can due to some serious medical issue. This is quite normal and understandable but getting more information about the symptoms of round ligament pain may help lessen the concerns regarding the said pain.
One of the most common and easily recognizable symptoms of round ligament pain is the sudden and intense spasm in the hip and abdomen area. The pain will usually present itself on the right side of the patient’s body but some women may experience the pain of round ligaments on both sides (right and left side) of the body.
Fortunately, round ligament pain is passing and temporary and will usually resolve on its own in a matter of seconds or minutes. The pain may return and be intermittently experienced by the patient. Women with round ligament pain may experience worse pain if certain movements or activities are conducted or accomplished. The patient’s doctor or medical partner will usually recommend mild and light physical activities or exercise programs since certain activities can worsen the pain or trigger the pain. Other things that may aggravate or trigger ligament pain include sudden movements, standing up quickly, turning over while lying down, laughing, sneezing, and coughing.
Pregnant women are more likely to experience pain and discomfort during any form of physical activity or motion due to the ligaments being stretched during the said movements. Luckily, patients can easily modify their range of motion and movements to limit the pain that they may be subjected to. Patients who may feel more pain while turning over in bed may try to turn over in bed slowly to ease and reduce ligament pain.
How Can Round Ligament Pain be Diagnosed?
No specific tests can be conducted to diagnose the said medical condition. People on their first pregnancy may be especially worried regarding the painful symptoms of round ligament pain and they may set up an appointment with their doctors or medical professionals to ensure that their symptoms are not caused by some other serious medical condition. Usually, the doctor can confirm and diagnose the symptoms of round ligament pain through patient descriptions and observations. Physical examinations may also be conducted by the patient’s doctor or healthcare professional to rule out other possible causes of the pain.
Patients are advised to seek medical attention once the pain of their round ligaments do not resolve or go away on their own after a few minutes or if patients experience extreme pain with other symptoms such as difficulty walking, pain when urinating, bleeding, chills and fever. Round ligament pain will also usually occur in the lower part of the abdomen but severe and prolonged pain in this area must seek medical attention from their doctor and healthcare partner.
Other medical conditions that can cause abdominal pain include liver or kidney problems, hernia, appendicitis and placental abruption which should immediately be treated by the patient’s doctor. Patients must also rule out the possibility of preterm labor since the said medical condition can feel like round ligament pain as well. However, unlike round ligament pain, preterm labor will also cause severe pain which will last longer than a few minutes.
What are Some of the Treatment Options for Round Ligament Pain?
While round ligament pain can be painfully common for women who are pregnant, there are a number of ways to lessen the pain it can cause and manage the other symptoms it may cause. Patients may try some of the following treatments listed below:
- A warm bath
- application of a heating pad
- flexing or bending the hips when sneezing or coughing
- Resting or relaxing
- taking over the counter or OTC medications such as acetaminophen
- prenatal yoga
- different exercise routines such as stretching
Some abdominal support such as a maternity belt may also be worn by the patient to help lessen the symptoms of round ligament pain. Aside from round ligament pain, a maternity belt can also help with hip pain, sciatica pain and pain in the lower back.