Hypermobility is a connective tissue disorder which is inherited from either or both parents. While Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), is considered a rare condition, in real practice, I see plenty of people who have EDS or Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) and Joint Hypermobility. I am convinced the bendy population has been under diagnosed and disbelieved for a LONG time! While they have found the genes causing EDS, the research for the gene identification still continues on HSD and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS).

Historically, it seems that most of them had an rather spot lighted life as a gymnast, dancer, ballerina, cheer, acrobatics and activities where their bendy joints put them ahead of the rest of the crowd. This of course came with several injuries and accidents from the early ages. 

Unfortunately, joint hypermobility is one of the many presentations that the bendy population has. The connective tissue disorder does not just impact the joints but the blood vessels, internal organs and all ligaments and soft tissue. That means the function of the whole body can change ranging from digestion to mood, skin to vision!

What are the signs of hypermobility?

Here are some of the common signs of hypermobility:

Joint flexibility beyond the norm:

You are able to bend your fingers, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles beyond what others can do. That is because your ligaments can stretch way more than others. This means that it is much easier for you to sublux (step before dislocation) your joints doing just the normal things. Of course, as stated above, there is a spectrum of presentations but joint subluxation is not uncommon by any means!

Joint pain and instability:

The bendy population is too familiar with chronic joint pain, especially in the knees, hips, and shoulders. The joints may also feel unstable, leading to a higher risk of sprains and dislocations. Many times, as children, the hypermobile person remembers not doing well with running and feeling pain in the knees, ankles and feet; this is when adults don’t understand what is going on and the child gets different labels.

Frequent injuries:

With joint instability comes frequent injuries. If you notice that you seem to get injured easily, especially during physical activities, it could be a sign of hypermobility. With frequent injuries, the person tries to avoid many activities or recovers from injury slower and this becomes another opportunity for labeling!

Soft or stretchy skin:

Hypermobility is a connective tissue disorder that of course impacts the skin. Some individuals with hypermobility may have soft, stretchy skin that can be pulled away from the body more than usual. This is often seen in conditions like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Chronic fatigue and muscle pain:

Hypermobility is not just about joints; it can also impact the surrounding muscles. Chronic fatigue and muscle pain are common complaints among hypermobile individuals. The body may have to work harder to stabilize joints, leading to muscle overuse and discomfort.

Can I check myself to see if I am Hypermobile?

You can use Beighton score to see if you are hypermobile. That is what is used to determine joint hypermobility in EDS but it is the same findings regardless of it you have the EDS genes or not!

Beighton score involves thumbs, little fingers, elbows, and knees. Score 4 or more out of 9, and you might just be a hypermobile but here is the deal: Take a picture of yourself each time so this is the last time you show what you can do!! If you are asked to show, just pull out the pics and show what you can!

Thumb-to-Wrist Test:

Bend your wrist forward and try to bring your thumb to your forearm, do it on both sides (each side gets 1 point)

Pinky Extension:

Try to extend your little finger back and see if it goes to 90 degree or more; do on both sides and give each side 1 point if you can

Elbow Extension:

Extend your arms and see if your elbows go beyond a straight line so much that they stick up toward the ceiling; give 1 point to each elbow if you can do this.

Knee Extension:

Can your knees extend beyond a straight line so they bow out the other way? Does that happen on both sides? If so, add another 2 points.

Flex Forward:

Can you reach forward, touch the ground and have the palm of your hands flat on the floor? If so, this one gets 1 point

What should you do if you are hypermobile?

Joint hypermobile groups on FB and consult the EDS Society Professional Provider List. This is where you will find those providers who treat hypermobile patients. I have taken the mission to interview the providers who are in California and have my opinion as to how seasoned they are in treating the bendy population. Make sure you call their office and ask your questions which should start with if they treat people with EDS or HSD and what percent of the practice is that population.

Rehab clinicians such as Chiropractors, Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists, can range from doing just adjustments, at home-activities and physical therapy of the joint in pain to someone like myself who is a chiropractor that focuses on the whole body stabilization and functional movement and does lifestyle modification to avoid circumstances that put my patients in an injury-potential zone. I do postural neurology, neuro-kinesiology, pelvic floor dysfunction and some gentle spinal manipulation and treat primarily the EDS, HSD and Joint Hypermobility crowd. Not every chiropractor does that and frankly in the world of physical therapy where most EDS and HSD patients consider, the normie methods actually do you arm.

Remember

You maybe thinking why me, why is it so hard to do x,y,z and go down the ‘wrong’ neighborhood of thinking. What I suggest you do is to look at moving. When we move locations, we box our belongings; some go in a box with hardly any care and others go with the items bubble wrapped, marked and handled with care. When done right, the one that is wrapped carefully always makes it safe and the ones that are not, can actually get damaged more.

Just because you have joint hypermobility does not mean you are doomed! If you learn how to move (which is the same for the normies too), when you know how some activities are simply not good ones to have, you are actually being safe and smart.

If you have joint hypermobility, please make sure you only see rehab. clinicians that treat EDS, HSD amd hypermobility patients. ***Contact me***** This needs to be adjusted to the new contact page****** because I know I can help.

Dr. Shakib