Causes and Symptoms of Round Ligament Pain
During pregnancy, our bodies are constantly changing and doing “funny” things that we are unfamiliar with. Because we want the best for our baby, it can be sometimes worrisome when certain things come up. One of those symptoms is commonly referred to as round ligament pain.
With a sudden sharp pain in your abdomen area, it is normal for a mother to panic. But since this is actually quite common in your second trimester, if you recognize it, there’s no reason to set off alarms quite yet.
Let’s talk more about what it really is and why it occurs.
What is Round Ligament Pain?
Before understanding what round ligament pain is, we must first understand what round ligaments are. Round ligaments are what holds your uterus in place around your pelvis. When we are not pregnant, these ligaments typically don’t cause any issues. They are short and round, but when you become pregnant they may stretch and take on increased pressure. Think of it like a rubber band.
What round ligament pain is, is a response to these pressures and stretches of becoming pregnant. As our belly grows, the ligaments become stretched and produce a sharp pain in this area. If you move too quickly, it may cause your ligament to respond by tightening and pull on surrounding nerves nearby.
This is what causes the sensation of sharp pain, as our nerves are quite sensitive. The result: discomfort and sharp pains.
What Causes Round Ligament Pain?
As mentioned above, the actual cause of round ligament pain is the expansion of the belly during pregnancy. This just puts a lot of pressure on the ligaments holding the uterus in place and causes them to overstretch like rubber bands.
When sudden movement occurs when these bands are overextended, the tense movement causes them to pull on the nearby nerve fibers, which are quite sensitive. This triggers the actual sensation of sharp pain the mothers may feel around their pelvis and abdomen.
Round Ligament Pain Symptoms
Because it can be alarming to experience this sort of pain in that particular area, it is worth knowing some round ligament pain symptoms. That way we can feel a sort of calm in the immediate aftermath rather than panic that something has gone astray.
Here are some of the most common round ligament pain symptoms:
- Intense, sudden spasms in your abdomen area.
- Sharp pains in your hip area.
- Constant pressure pinpoints in your abdomen and hip area.
- Usual pain on the right side, but some women have pain in both.
- Possible one-and-done situations.
- Intermittent pain is also a possibility for some women.
While these are the basic symptoms, it can also be worth recognizing some of the things that can trigger this sort of pain. Some are avoidable, while others really aren’t. These are some of the most common triggers:
- Sneezing and coughing puts intense pressure on these areas
- Turning over in bed or sitting up in bed too quickly
- Taking a step or standing up quickly
- Sudden movements
When Does Round Ligament Pain Start in Pregnancy?
Round ligament pain can really start around week 14 of your pregnancy. Typically, this is at the end of your first trimester and will last right until after delivery. This is because the ligaments will continue to stretch and have pressure on them in the pelvis and in the uterus all the way until they start shrinking again after delivery.
How Long Does Round Ligament Pain Last?
How long round ligament pain lasts completely depends on each individual person. Sometimes it can be a quick thing, and it doesn’t happen again, where other women experience it quite frequently. If someone is sneezing a lot, and it occurs every time, then it can become quite tiresome and frustrating for women to continually experience this while pregnant.
That’s why it can be important for women to try treating it as soon as possible. Because doctors typically just diagnose it based on the description, women can try alleviating pain symptoms once they start experiencing them.
Round Ligament Pain Treatment
Since round ligament treatment is experienced by many, there are quite a few tricks of the trade that women can try out to reduce their symptoms of pain and occurring.
Here are the best solutions for minimizing the pain:
Easy on the quick moves
No need to be quick and limber while pregnant. Take your time and move slowly to avoid the sudden movements that can affect the trigger of these painful symptoms.
Stretching, in general, is going to help reduce round ligament pain but also something worth considering is trying to stretch while in a coughing or sneezing position. This can sort of train the muscles to relax when this occurs.
Warm compresses are always a great idea when it comes to giving yourself some extra comfort in the lower abdomen/pelvis/ back area. It can help loosen things up and relieve some of that tension.
These also do the tricks by providing the warm compress all over. This can be really beneficial for soothing your body and loosening those areas up.
Belly bands are tools sussed by pregnant women to offer more support by taking off some pressure and pain that comes with a growing belly. They provide the support needed under your belly and work fantastic.
Approved over-the-counter medications
This should definitely be discussed with your doctor, as some medications can put you and the baby at risk. Even if it is not prescribed, it is important to talk this out with your doctor and ensure it is safe for you to take. Sometimes crossing medications can cause reactions.
If you aren’t sure about stretching on your own, prenatal yoga is a great option. This can really help loosen up your body at a great pace that is both safe for you and safe for the baby. Plus, it offers stress release among many other benefits.
Lower intense workouts
Sometimes it is our workouts that are really putting the stress and strain on our bodies that trigger this. Toning it back a little so that your body can adjust and adapt is a great idea.
Round Ligament Pain Risks
Round ligament pain is actually very common in pregnant women and is not a threat or risk to a mother or baby’s health. What becomes the risk is that sometimes women aren’t sure whether they are experiencing round ligament pain or they are experiencing abdominal pain.
Abdominal pain can be quite serious and pose greater risks for women, such as miscarriages. In general, the only known risk associated with round ligament pain is the stress it may cause a mother because of not understanding the differentiation between round ligament pain and abdominal pain.
Here are some of the key differences to tell if you are experiencing abdominal pain:
- Round ligament pain should be a sudden pain that removes itself when you change position.
- Abdominal cramping can occur and last for many minutes, hours, and feel like contractions.
- Intense lower back pain is reason enough to call your doctor, as this is likely a result of abdominal cramping or something else rather than round ligament pain.
Round Ligament Pain FAQs
Round ligament pain just sounds so unpleasant. And it is. The good news is it is short-lived and there are some things that you can do about it. Having said that, there are always going to be some questions involving something that causes pain. That is why we have dedicated this section just for frequently asked questions to put your mind at ease.
Is round ligament pain a sign of pregnancy?
For those who are not pregnant and stumbled upon this article, you may be thinking, how am I pregnant? Round ligament pain can absolutely be a sign of pregnancy, as it is not so common in not pregnant women. The reason being is the anatomy of our ligaments and how they don’t experience the same pressures as they would once our belly begins to grow and put a strain on our pelvis and uterus.
If you are not pregnant but are experiencing round ligament pain, it is worth talking to your doctor. While not unheard of, women who are not pregnant and experience round ligament pain may have other signs of a healthy condition. In the most extreme cases, this could be endometriosis.
Is there an official way to diagnose round ligament pain?
There is no real testing that a doctor will do to confirm you have round ligament pain. The way the doctor diagnoses your condition is by simply listening to your description of the symptoms you have and how they occur. From here they can diagnose it because it is fairly common for pregnant women to have it.
It is basically self-diagnosable. This is why women can start treating themselves immediately twitch the listed above to try and alleviate some of these symptoms and painful occurrences. It doesn’t hurt however to still go in and check with a doctor. The reason being is that some women still have a hard time differentiating between this and abdominal pain. Take another look at the differences above to confirm you are not experiencing abdominal pain.
Is there cause for concern if it continues to occur after delivery?
Likely, women will stop experiencing these sensations after delivery because the body already starts shrinking and relieving pressure off of these designated areas. If it were to continue for many weeks after, it isn’t necessarily causing concern, but something that you should check back in with your doctor.
Something for a bit of comfort is that after delivering a baby, a doctor will monitor you and your body’s condition to ensure that your body is healing the way it should after delivery, and no major complications are present.
Take a Breath
Pregnancy, especially for first-time moms, is a lot to take in. Our nervous systems and our bodies are constantly changing, and it feels like the learning curve is steep. Having said that, sometimes there are a few bumps on the road that really isn’t as big of a bump as they feel. Round ligament pain is certainly one of them. Round ligament pain can cause the stress of a mother feeling abdominal pain, but really it is quite common and naturally occurs at the end of the first trimester and beginning of the second.
The sharp pain sensation in the abdomen is triggered by sudden movements that cause tension on the nerve fibers nearby. This in turn is because there is a lot of pressure coming from the belly put on the ligaments that are stretched like rubber bands. They aren’t meant to take too much tension, which is why you suddenly feel this pain in your abdomen from time to time.
This is going to every different from abdomen cramping, which can cause serious complications. Round ligament pain has no risks really and can be cured with a number of methods like warm compresses, stretching, and limiting intense exercise. Abdominal cramping however lasts lower and should be followed up with a call to the doctor early on.
Round ligament pain is something that will go away shortly after delivery. This is because the belly is already shrinking and there is immediate relief of pressure on the ligaments. If you are really struggling with this experience, you can call your doctor, who can recommend over-the-counter medications that are safe for you and your baby to have.