What is hypermobility?
Joint hypermobility is a very common diagnosis in the general population and its simplest description is joint movement that is above a normal range. Hypermobility can offer many advantages for sports that require increased flexibility, such as dance and gymnastics. However, it can also lead to frequent injuries, dislocations, subluxations and sprains. The excess movement at the joint can also lead to chronic daily pain due to the extra movement in a joint causing microtrauma and inflammation.
The term hypermobility covers a myriad of hereditary connective tissue disorders such as Ehler – Danlos syndrome, Benign Joint hypermobility and Marfan Syndrome. Our body is made up of many forms of connective tissue, your ligaments, tendons, heart, digestive system and eyes are all formed partially by connective tissue, therefore people with a hereditary hypermobility disorder can present with a variety of symptoms and issues that stem from a problem with their connective tissue.
Who does hypermobility Affect and How Common is it?
Hypermobility disorders are prevalent in 5-18% of the Caucasian population and 43% in non-Caucasian populations. The most prevalent links appear to be age and gender related, women and children have a higher risk of hypermobility disorders.
What are symptoms of hypermobility?
The most common complaint of people experiencing hypermobility is pain in one or more joints, most commonly being the knees and ankles, often complaining of long-term daily pain and night pain.
Other common Signs and Symptoms:
- Varicose Veins
- Patella dislocation or subluxation
- Flat feet
- Problems with bladder/bowel or pelvic floor
What is the best way to manage hypermobility?
Focussing on joint stability, strength and control rather than flexibility in exercise programs and training will assist with combatting the condition, limiting its effect on function and potential to cause injury. In some cases, early rehabilitation can involve the use of strapping or a brace to protect the affected joint in combination with stability exercises. In more severe cases crutches can be a temporary solution to relieve pain.
Orthotics are commonly used to assist with relieving pain in the ankles and knees by assisting the foot into a more optimum position for the ligaments, joints and bones to tolerate loading.
Education is the best tool, knowing about the condition will provide confidence and reassurance of how to approach activities of daily living and sport. Hypermobility is not a progressive condition and can be managed with lifestyle changes, exercise and joint protection.