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- What is Round Ligament Pain?
- Causes of Round Ligament Pain
- Symptoms of Round Ligament Pain
- How Does Round Ligament Pain Differ From Abdominal Pain?
- Complications of Having Round Ligament Pain When Pregnant
- When to Contact Your Doctor
- Exercises for Round Ligament Pain in Pregnancy
- Can You Use a Maternity Belt?
- Some Important Facts
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Pregnancy is a period when the body undergoes many physical and hormonal changes to support and develop the growing baby. As your pregnancy progresses and your baby starts to grow, you start to gain weight. This increase in body weight exerts pressure on the joints and ligaments, resulting in all kinds of body-pain, especially ligament pain.
What is Round Ligament Pain?
Round ligament pain is a sudden but short pain that is felt on either side of the abdomen or groin region. This pain is normal and most likely to be experienced during the middle of your pregnancy. As the baby grows inside you, the round ligaments in your pelvis begin to experience spasms due to the continuous stretching. Round ligament pain during pregnancy might be experienced when you try to move around or shift your position while you are seated or sleeping.
Causes of Round Ligament Pain
The causes of round ligament pain during pregnancy are as follows:
- Changes in the round ligament supporting your uterus to accommodate the increase in weight
- Increased blood flow (which manifests to support the growing baby)
- Physical stress caused by simple daily actions like walking
Symptoms of Round Ligament Pain
Round ligament pain during early pregnancy is characterised by the following symptoms:
- Experiencing contractions that last for a long period of time
- Increasing pain in the pelvis and extreme pain in the lower back area
- Spotting or bleeding and abnormal vaginal discharge
- Burning sensation or pain during urination
- Difficulty in walking
- Fever, nausea, dizziness or vomiting
- Sharp, sudden spasms in the belly
If any of these symptoms prolong, then it is an indication of ligament pain which warrants necessary action to be taken.
How Does Round Ligament Pain Differ From Abdominal Pain?
The difference between ligament pain and abdominal pain is that ligament pain is usual during pregnancy and is harmless. Ligament pain does not last for more than a few seconds. Abdominal pain or cramping during pregnancy, on the other hand, could be a sign of a serious problem such as severe preeclampsia, preterm labour, placental abruption or a problem that is unrelated to pregnancy such as appendicitis.
Complications of Having Round Ligament Pain When Pregnant
Round ligament pain during pregnancy does not have any harmful effect and is a natural process by which the body adjusts to the physical changes it’s undergoing. Pregnant women can face certain minor complications as a result of round ligament pains:
- Sharp spasms and contractions that last for a long period of time
- Bouts of nausea and vomiting accompanied by chills and fever
- Increased spotting and vaginal discharge
- Extreme, unbearable pain in the pelvic region and lower back area
In addition to these minor complications or unease, ligament pain does not have much of an impact on pregnant women.
If you are suffering from round ligament pain, you can contact your doctor to discuss the possible remedies you can take to reduce the pain. The doctor will advise a dosage of acetaminophen (paracetamol) in case the ligament pain is unbearable and hurts too much.
These simple yet effective remedies to reduce the impact of ligament pain can be practised at home.
- Relaxation: Simply wait for the pain to pass through and resume work once the pain is gone.
- Slow down: In case you are always on the move, consider reducing the pace of your activities if you notice round ligament pain. Increase the pace when you feel better.
- Massage: Massaging the affected area will provide some relief from pain.
- Hot compress: Hot soaks, hot water bath or applying warmth to the affected area will also bring relief.
- Changing your position and lying on the opposite side may also help.
It is not easy to prevent ligament pain. However, the following are certain activities which you can do or avoid in order to prevent severe round ligament pain:
- Practice good body mechanics: Maintain a good posture. Keep your shoulders back and your back straight. Good body mechanics will help in preventing severe bouts of ligament pain.
- Practice yoga: Practicing prenatal yoga will strengthen your muscles and reduce the impact of weight gain on the ligaments.
- Avoid sudden movements: Avoid sudden movements and change positions as slowly as possible to avoid stretching and pain.
When to Contact Your Doctor
Mild ligament pain lasts only for a few seconds and can be managed at home. If the pain lasts longer than a few seconds and is severe, you must contact your doctor. Following situations also merit a call to the doctor:
- Continuous pain with increasing severity
- Pain accompanied by fever and chills
- Pain lasts for more than a few minutes
- You experience pain during urination
Exercises for Round Ligament Pain in Pregnancy
Regular exercise can help in relieving the discomfort caused by ligament pain. Following are a few exercises which will help you in case of pain:
- Gentle stretches: Keep your hands and knees on the floor and lower your head towards them. Gently arch your back. This will provide relief to the aching ligaments.
- Pelvic rock: Continue to stay in the position as in the exercise above. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Let your head hang down loosely and hold this position for five seconds.
- Pelvic tilt: To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Breathe in deeply and tighten the abdominal muscles. Push your back more towards the floor while holding your breath and remain in this position for five seconds before exhaling.
Can You Use a Maternity Belt?
You can use a maternity belt as it supports the bump and relives the pain. The belt should be used for a limited time instead of using it for the entire day. You should also consult your doctor before starting the usage of a maternity belt. A maternity belt only helps reduce the pain, but it does not cure the underlying conditions of the pain.
Some Important Facts
Some important facts to note about round ligament pain:
- Round ligament pain is only temporary and will disappear in the third trimester of pregnancy.
- The condition doesn’t harm the baby or the mother in any way and is completely natural.
- Ligament pain does not require any medication and usually subsides on its own. Medication is suggested only when the pain is too severe or the symptoms or the pain is prolonged.
Physical changes are bound to happen during pregnancy and there is nothing much that can be done to prevent or avoid them. Similarly, round ligament pain is bound to happen in the second trimester. The pain can be reduced by taking certain precautionary steps and maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy.