During pregnancy, women experience round ligament pain which can be described as a sharp pain felt in the lower belly or groin area. Though it is rare, some women who are not pregnant may also experience round ligament pain. Are you experiencing severe pain in your ligament even though you are not pregnant? and Are you confused about if this is round ligament pain or not? Then there is no need to worry because we are here to answer all of your questions.
Generally, round ligament pain occurs in women who are pregnant and is rarely seen in non-pregnant women. Round ligament pain in women who are not pregnant is a sign of endometriosis, which may cause sharp abdominal pain along with pelvic pain. This abdominal pain is typically mistaken for other medical conditions due to the similarity in its symptoms in relation to other conditions which cause pain during pregnancy. Sudden movements of the ligament along with excessive pressure and stress around the ligament can lead to round ligament pain.
What Does Round Ligament Pain Feel Like?
The uterus which is a part of the female reproductive system carries the baby. the size of the uterus grows as the baby grows during pregnancy. To support it your pelvic ligaments start to stretch and become soft, which causes discomfort. This discomfort may also be caused by irritation in your nerve fibers or due to the tightening of your ligaments. Round ligament pain in non-pregnant women may be a result of the growth of uterine lining outside the uterus, this condition is normally referred to as endometriosis.
Round ligament pain may occur on both or one side of the body, it feels like the pain beings inside your groin area and moves upward towards your hips and can increase with certain movements like coughing, sneezing, and laughing. The pain usually lasts for a few seconds but in some cases, it can also last for an hour. women experience round ligament pain most during the second trimester of their pregnancy.
What Do Women Describe Round Ligament Pain As:
Women’s experience with round ligament pain may vary from person to person. Many women describe round ligament pain as a feeling of sharp stabbing in the lower abdominal area. following is a list of the most common symptoms of round ligament pain in women:
- Cramps in the lower abdomen.
- A pulling or stabbing sensation.
- Aches in the pelvic and abdominal region.
You will notice that this pain will increase when you change your position, even with sudden movements like laughing, coughing, or sneezing you will feel a sharp abdominal pain. This pain is said to cause severe discomfort for pregnant women in the second trimester.
What Causes Round Ligament pain?
Round ligaments are a pair of cordlike structures in the pelvis. They perform the function of providing support to the uterus by joining in front of it in the groin region. During pregnancy, a female’s body goes through several changes, like hormonal changes, which make the ligaments softer and stretchable. This stretching in turn makes the round ligaments easily irritated, causing Round ligament pain.
Round ligament pain in women that are not pregnant is typically due to an underlying condition or just because of excessive stress and pressure applied over the ligament.
What Can be Mistaken for Round Ligament Pain?
Several medical conditions have similar symptoms as round ligament pain, thus it makes it very difficult to distinguish between other illnesses and round ligament pain. The most common symptom of round ligament pain is a sharp pain felt in the pelvic area along with abdominal pain, this same symptom can be seen in conditions like inguinal hernia occurring in the passageway of the inguinal canal, endometriosis, kidney stones, placenta abruption, and issues in your liver.
In addition to this, round ligament pain can easily be mistaken for cramps and contractions. Following is a list of differences that can help you in telling contractions and round ligament pain apart:
- Round ligament pain can be triggered by sudden movements while contractions can occur in any position.
- Round ligament pain lasts for a few seconds while contractions last for long periods.
- Contractions may increase in strength.
Keep in mind the pain in round ligaments is only associated with pain in your pelvis and lower abdomen. If this pain occurs along with a feeling of nausea and vomiting then this pain is caused due to another medical condition and you may need to consult a healthcare provider immediately.
How Can round Ligament Pain be Treated?
There is no specific treatment for pain caused by round ligaments. Though some lifestyle changes can help your body to overcome severe discomfort. For non-pregnant and pregnant women with round ligament pain, it is recommended that they should rest and try to soothe the pain by placing a heating pad on their lower abdomen and pelvis region as round ligament pain is expected to heal on its own after allowing their body to rest.
You can make changes in your lifestyle to prevent round ligament pain, following is a list of this you can avoid to reduce round ligament pain:
lifting heavy objects for long periods causes your round ligaments to be under great amounts of stress, which leads to an increase in round ligament pain. To prevent this, avoid lifting heavy objects and standing for long periods.
As discussed above, sudden movements cause your round ligament pain to worsen. To avoid sudden movements try leaning forward before coughing, laughing, and sneezing. Also, place a hand below your baby bump for support. This will help to prevent the worsening of your situation.
It is highly recommended by professionals that if you are experiencing round ligament pain then you should avoid certain movements by reducing physical activity and also try to avoid standing for long durations of time in order to prevent the worsening of the pain. Resting is one of the best remedies to allow your body to heal.
Yoga is a great way to deal with sharp stabbing pain caused by round ligament pain during pregnancy. Yoga also helps you to prepare yourself for the pain experienced while giving birth.
If you are able to do certain movements then try doing water exercises like swimming or water aerobics. Remember to do moderate exercises and do not overstress yourself.
Take a warm bath:
A warm bath will not only help you with your physical pain but will also help you mentally as Pregnancy can be a lot to deal with.
Use elastic band:
As the baby grows, the size of the baby bump also increases which puts a large amount of weight on the mother. To deal with this you can use elastic bands to support your bump.
Place a heating pad over your abdominal and pelvic region to overcome the pain.
If you are unable to deal with the pain you can ask your doctor to recommend over-the-counter medications that can reduce the pain. Acetaminophen is often recommended to patients. Remember never to use a medication without your doctor’s approval.
Does Stretching Help Women Who Experience Round Ligament Pain?
Round ligament pain experienced during pregnancy causes sharp pain on the left side or right side of the uterus as well as in the groin area. To deal with this pain you can try many different techniques. stretching is one of the best remedies that can help with not only dealing with the pain caused by round ligaments but can also help with the pain experienced during birth. You can ask any healthcare provider about the wonders of stretching. Following are a few stretches that can help with round ligament pain:
Place your hands and knee on the floor and shoulders directly above your wrist. Start breathing in, and while doing so drop your stomach down to make it look like your back is arched upwards. This position is referred to as “The Cow” position. Now breathe out, while doing so round your upper back, allowing your face to drop and face your stomach. This is called “The Cat” position. Repeat this 2 to 3 times.
You can do leg extensions right after the previous exercise as you will be in the correct starting position. With all four limbs on the ground start extending your leg to the right side, press your heel back and lift your leg up and hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds. After that switch your leg and repeat.
Pelvic Tilt stretch:
Place your back against the floor and bent your knees. Inhale and tighten your abdominal muscles, and while doing so push your back into the floor. hold this position for 3 to 4 seconds and then repeat.
Sit upright on a firm surface. with good posture. Then place the soles of your feet together and start pushing yourself up and down. This will make you look like a butterfly, hence the name butterfly stretch.
Side lying savasana:
Typically this stretch is done while laying on your back. But this could be a problem for pregnant women as laying straight on your back can cause the growing uterus to apply pressure on blood vessels carrying blood to your heart. So it is advised that pregnant women perform this stretch by lying on their side. Now place yourself on the left side and tuck your left arm below your head to provide a cushion. Then place a pillow between your legs and flex your hip. This helps in eliminating any kind of tension from your body.
How Do I Know I am Having Round Ligament Pain?
If you are experiencing round ligament pain then you will have the following symptoms:
- Severe pain during certain movements.
- Discomfort in the right side or both sides of your lower abdomen.
- A pulling sensation on the sides of your groin.
- Stabbing pain in your abdomen and pelvis region
- Pain around your baby bump.
Round ligament pain is very normal in pregnancy, if the pain is too much for you to handle then you can ask your healthcare provider for some tips to deal with this pain.
When Should You Call a Healthcare Provider?
Though pain in the abdominal and pelvic regions caused by round ligament pain during pregnancy is nothing to be alarmed about. Pregnant women should still keep in mind that there could be other causes of pain that may be harmless or very serious, for example:
- Sciatica, a condition in which the pain travels through the path of the sciatic nerve.
- Gas and constipation.
- Ectopic pregnancy, a condition in which egg implants outside the uterus.
- Urinary tract infection.
- Miscarriage; loss of pregnancy.
- Placenta abruption, a condition in which the placenta breaks away from the uterus while the baby is still in the womb. This condition is highly fatal.
- Practice contractions or Braxton Hicks.
In all the conditions mentioned above, abdominal pain is common. Hence if you are experiencing abdominal pain along with the following symptoms then you should contact a doctor:
- Severe bleeding
- Nausea and vomiting
- Trouble while walking
- Vaginal discharge
- Pressure and pain in the lower back
- Contractions and cramps
Round ligament pain can be very painful. It can be caused due to pregnancy or any other medical conditions. Though there is no specific treatment for this condition, one can use different techniques to deal with it like, stretching, doing yoga, using a heating pad, resting, etc. Keep in mind that not all abdominal pains are round ligament pain. If you experience other symptoms like vomiting, chills, nausea, and fever then you should contact a doctor who can help you in taking the best decisions for yourself. Be aware that round ligament pain can be mistaken for other medical conditions like a kidney stone, hernia, etc. So it is in your best interest to check up with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing lower abdominal pain.