Hypermobility occurs when there is laxity (i.e., less tension) in the ligaments that surround a joint. This provides the joint with a range of mobility that is greater than predicted.
What is the impact of hypermobility on movement?
Joint hypermobility is not a significant source of discomfort/pain for many persons. Some people may begin to suffer symptoms such as persistent muscular discomfort and aching, tendinitis, and recurrent dislocations due to their condition.
In the medical community, the term Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (BJHS) is used to characterize specific musculoskeletal symptoms that are caused by excessive joint movement. According to the BJHS, there is no underlying systemic reason.
Several unusual medical disorders affect connective tissues in the body, like Marfan’s Syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, that are worth noting.
Individuals suffering from these illnesses are at increased risk of developing hypermobility because the disorder affects collagen. This protein is essential for the strength and structure of numerous tissues in the body.
Joint hypermobility can be acquired, as in gymnasts and ballet dancers, or congenital, particularly people with Down syndrome (something we are born with). Because hypermobility is a feature that tends to be inherited, it is common to have additional family members who also have the condition.
The Beighton Scale, which is a basic points system, may be used to determine the degree of hypermobility present in a particular individual.
Hypermobility, exercise, and injury prevention
Hypermobility is sometimes misrepresented as flexibility. A hypermobile people may frequently undertake stretching tasks with seeming ease, even though they are hypermobile. Their muscles, on the other hand, will be extremely tense when they are examined. Before paying great attention to the movement being executed, it appears to be counter-intuitive.
Consider the following scenario: you are leaning forward to touch the floor with your hands. If your hamstrings have sufficient flexibility, they will extend, allowing you to reach the floor.
Because the hamstrings are likely to be extremely tight in hypermobility, the movement must be altered in other areas. In this situation, any laxity of the ligaments at the knee joint can be used to generate the forward bend that is desired. This permits the knee to be brought into hyperextension, giving the impression of flexibility to the joint.
Ligaments offer proprioceptive data to the brain regarding the location of the joint about the surrounding environment. Hypermobility of the joints, particularly in the lower limb, can have an impact on the accuracy of this type of information.
This raises the likelihood of damage and the development of BJHS symptoms. Ligaments do not have the same elastic qualities as muscles, and they are unable to return to their original length after being stretched beyond their natural limits.
Because of the instability created by laxity, the joint is more susceptible to injury as well as increased wear and strain.
Hypermobile individuals can lower their risk of injury and BJHS by doing the following:
- Increasing the strength of your muscles
Performing exercises that serve to increase muscle tone will aid in decreasing the stress placed on hypermobile joints. Muscles assist in the generation, deceleration, and dissipation of force during movement, allowing the ligaments to be spared. In addition, good muscle tone might help to maintain some stability around joints.
- Movement Education
It is essential to perform every action precisely and with control and awareness. This is true regardless of the type of the movement; whether it is flexibility work, strength training, or conditioning work
In order to preserve susceptible joints, it is essential to concentrate on proper muscle engagement and the initiation of healthy movement patterns.
Ask for advice from an experienced practitioner in the early stages of re-learning movement because feedback is critical in this process (Osteopath, Physiotherapist, or Sports Therapist).
No matter where you lie on the spectrum of flexibility or hypermobility, the key to injury prevention is finding an appropriate balance between movement and stability.
What is the treatment for hypermobile joints?
- Modify lifestyle
Modification of one’s way of life is quite significant for improving posture and decreasing tiredness. Avoid engaging in activities that aggravate your symptoms. Reduce the amount of intense exercise you do and instead do modest isometric training that requires less stretching and tugging. Physical therapy is used to improve joints and muscles, and patients are taught how to avoid hyperextension due to their treatment.
It is possible to begin using braces to support weak joints after they have been damaged or become uncomfortable. However, extreme caution should be exercised to avoid additional weakening of the joints due to repeated bracing. Using shoe inserts and/or orthotics can also be beneficial when the feet/ankles are involved, weak, or flat in the first place.
Because HMS can induce inflammation and discomfort, several various drugs, such as anti-inflammatory medications, have been tested in the United States and Europe, with some success, to alleviate the symptoms. Tricyclic antidepressants are used for various reasons, including their pain-relieving effects, their ability to help sleep, and their ability to treat depression caused by chronic pain or a chronic disease. Gabapentin or Lyrica, drugs used to treat seizures, have been used to alleviate the burning that can be linked with HMS with varying degrees of efficacy. It has also been reported that steroid injections have been utilized, as has Tramadol, a non-narcotic pain reliever that functions in the same way as an opioid medication and is tolerated rather well. Finally, muscle relaxers may be prescribed for those who suffer from unpleasant muscle spasms around loose joints from time to time.