Round Ligament Pain

Round Ligament Pain is perhaps the most common issue which motivates women to see a chiropractor during pregnancy. Thankfully, our approach to managing pregnant patients can generally eliminate most, if not all, of the discomfort associated with round ligament pain. [note: please keep in mind that differentiating “Broad Ligament” pain from “Round Ligament” pain is virtually impossible and so we tend to refer to both as simply “Round Ligament Pain”; the treatment is generally identical, in either case.]

What is the Round Ligament?

The round ligaments of the uterus are strong, supportive bands of tissue that, along with the Broad Ligaments, keep the uterus stable in the pelvis. As your growing baby expands your uterus, these ligaments become stretched. This expansion and stretching is what generates the symptoms of round ligament pain.

What are the symptoms of Round Ligament pain?

Round Ligament Pain
  • Sharp, often described as “stabbing”, pain in your lower belly usually lasting less than a few seconds.  Some women experience the pain more in their groin or genitalia than in their abdomen, but this is rare.
  • The round ligament pain is usually more severe often on the right side, but we frequently see round ligament pain worse on the left side. This tendency for the round ligament pain to be worse on the right side often leads pregnant women experiencing round ligament pain to think they have appendicitis. [note: it is always a good idea to review the symptoms of appendicitis, and seek immediate medical attention if you believe that condition at all applies to you.]
  • You may experience increased round ligament pain with exercise
  • Rapid movements may increase the round ligament pain. (e.g., sneezing, rolling over in bed, moving from sitting to standing)
Round ligament pain is usually first noticed in early pregnancy, most often later in the first trimester. We usually see patients with round ligament pain beginning in the second trimester and thankfully, even without intervention, it usually disappears sometime in the third trimester, although we have seen cases where women persist with the pain all the way to delivery, and even beyond. Our strategy for round ligament pain treatment usually eliminates most symptoms rapidly.

Should I call the Obstetrician?

Anytime you experience pain during your pregnancy, you should discuss it with your obstetrician or nurse-midwife, as pain is always a sign something is happening in your body that is abnormal.

You should contact your primary obstetrical provider or seek other emergency medical attention immediately if…
  • the pain is severe — “first or worst”- the first time you’ve had the pain or worst pain you’ve had
  • the pain is persistent, lasting more than a two or three minutes
  • you have a fever or chills or other sign of infection
  • urination is painful
  • you notice weakness in your legs or difficulty walking
There are many causes of abdominal pain in pregnancy. Some are serious, potentially pregnancy-threatening like placental abruption or preterm labor. Some have nothing to do with your pregnancy like the aforementioned appendicitis.

What can I do at home for my Round Ligament pain?

  • Prenatal yoga:  Yoga can be quite helpful, as can other stretching exercises. Particularly helpful is an exercise seen in the image. Putting your hands and knees on the floor, lower your head and raise your rear. This will stretch the tissues in your abdomen, hopefully alleviating the symptoms.Round Ligament Pain Yoga
  • Slow it down: Make movements, particularly transitional movements, slowly.
  • Bend Your Hips: By bringing your knees closer to your chest before you cough or sneeze, you can significantly reduce the pain you experience.
  • A warm bath may be helpful, or moist heat applied to the area.
All of these suggestions should be discussed and cleared by your doctor, of course.

Chiropractic Care for Round Ligament Pain

If you are still experiencing problems, we can help. As the only chiropractor in the region with a focus on treating pregnancy-related issues, we have the experience and tools to get you feeling better, faster. There are many other proven benefits, to both mother and baby, from receiving regular chiropractic care during your pregnancy.
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