Evaluation of ligament laxity during pregnancy

J Gynecol Obstet Hum Reprod. 2019 May;48(5):351-357. doi: 10.1016/j.jogoh.2019.02.009. Epub 2019 Feb 20.


Objective: Pregnancy-related changes in ligament laxity have been shown to be associated with various disorders such as back pain or pelvic floor disorders. The purpose of this study was to assess laxity changes during pregnancy by confronting different methods in order to suggest a simple clinical tool helping to prevent the aforementioned problems.

Design: Seventeen pregnant women were evaluated at the first, second and third trimesters as cases and 16 non-pregnant women participated as controls. Ligamentous laxity was measured using an extensometer for the metacarpophalangeal joint of the index, a fingertip to floor test and a sit and reach test to assess hip and lumbar flexibility and the Beighton score. Statistical analysis included independent samples t-tests, analysis of variance and Pearson correlation coefficients.

Results: Laxity of the metacarpophalangeal joint increased by 11% from the first to the second trimester of pregnancy and stabilized until delivery. The Beighton score was significantly higher in the second trimester of pregnancy (p < 0.05). The flexibility of the hip and lumbar vertebra showed a significant increase of the distance measured between the foot soles and the middle fingers at third trimester (p < 0.05). A moderate correlation was observed between the results given by the extensometer and the Beighton score in both the cases and the control group at first trimester (r = 0.60, p < 0.05) but none was found for the two hip and lumbar flexibility tests.

Conclusion: Laxity reached its maximum at the second trimester. The combination of an objective measurement by the extensometer and a global evaluation of the laxity by the Beighton' score for example may be useful for a daily assessment of laxity. However, the chosen clinical tests don't seem appropriate to be used alone in pregnant women.

Keywords: Clinical tests; Extensometer; Hypermobility; Quantification.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiopathology*
  • Metacarpophalangeal Joint / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Pregnancy Trimesters
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*