On a recent trip to the UK, a friend and senior physiotherapist in London suggested that I was hypermobile. My husband and I had a good laugh at this because my lack of flexibility is often a subject of discussion (and amusement) in our home.
Joint hypermobility means some or all of a person’s joints have an unusually large range of movement.
People with hypermobility are particularly supple and able to move their limbs into positions others find impossible. This can be true of just some joints as in my case I am embarrassed to admit that I have allowed my hamstrings, hip flexors, forearms…and so on to tighten excessively, effectively resolving the trouble of hypermobility at the joints these muscles envelop and put them at risk to alternate damage!
Many people with hypermobile joints do not have any problems or need treatment. However, joint hypermobility can sometimes cause unpleasant symptoms, such as:
• joint pain
• back pain
• dislocated joints – when the joint comes out if its correct position
• soft tissue injuries, such as tenosynovitis (inflammation of the protective sheath around a tendon)
If hypermobility causes these types of symptoms it is often called joint hypermobility syndrome.
Joint hypermobility syndrome can be very difficult to live with because it can cause fatigue (extreme tiredness) and long-term pain. It may also take time to receive the correct diagnosis due to the wide range of symptoms that joint hypermobility syndrome can cause.
Having a hypermobile joint exposes the structures of that joint to increased forces. Joint ligaments and capsule are left over exposed to the pushes and pulls of daily life. Needless to say this makes the joint/area susceptible to injury and pain.
Physiotherapy has always been the mainstay of treatment for the musculoskeletal aspects of joint hypermobility syndrome. As always an integrated physiotherapy programme is essential and the most up-to-date research supports:
-improving spinal posture by developing core stability;
-enhancing joint stability by encouraging joint-stabilising exercises;
-avoiding resting in harmful end-of-range positions/postures;
I was relieved on researching the condition and its treatment that we were right up-to-date with current practices and the combination of physiotherapy assessment, treatment, and clinical Pilates used at Chevron Island Physiotherapy enabled us to recognise and treat such conditions – myself included. Amazing that we were already identifying and rehabilitating hypermobility without realising its specialised diagnosis and the implications of ignoring it. Sometimes a small comment by friends can take you on an interesting journey.
Su Bauman (Physiotherapist)