Joint hypermobility is a result of a connective tissue disorder impacting the joints specifically. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a connective tissue disorder impacting all connective tissues including the joints. Do you see the connection?

Joint hypermobility is one of the presentations of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which is one version of a connective tissue disorder. Joint hypermobility, therefore, is not exclusive to EDS. There are conditions such as Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder or HSD, Marfans, Scleroderma, and Sjogrens, that clearly are not EDS but still exhibit joint hypermobility.

What is important to note is that the hypermobility treatment for all of these conditions, which may have variations in other associated symptoms, is the same.

Is Joint Hypermobility The Same As Flexibility?

No. A person is flexible when their muscles, tendons and ligaments can stretch, can shorten, and can resume their neutral length when indicated. With joint hypermobility, the ligaments are too lax and don’t contract the same way. That is in fact, one of the reasons why the Bendy community’s proprioception, the knowledge of where you are in space at any given time, is not their strongest forte.

How Do I Know If I Have A Subluxated Joint?

When it comes to explaining mobility and stability to my hypermobile patients, I explain their joint hypermobility like driving a car and stopping at the crosswalk, vs going a little bit into the crosswalk, vs going more into the crosswalk, vs going past the crosswalk, vs going all the way into the middle of the intersection.

Hypermobility degrees vary from one hypermobile person to another. When you are ‘in the middle of crosswalk’ is when you have gone past subluxation and into the dislocation zone. Being on the end side of the crosswalk is where subluxation resides! This is when you are hypermobile and can tell if you are subluxated or not.

The picture below shows hypermobility of the left hip, knee, and ankle, pushing the limits toward subluxation but not there yet. She is in the middle of the crosswalk, so to speak! 🙂

woman on a bench doing a yoga pose with overextended knee

What Is The Treatment For Joint Hypermobility?

The treatment for joint hypermobility has to be done with the help of rehab. clinician who is familiar with EDS, HSD, and other connective tissue disorders that involve the joints. The Bendy and Normie treatments are NOT the same and will hurt the hypermobile individual.

I always tell my hypermobile patients who are the majority of my practice that when it comes to moving our house, we package our belongings differently. Sometimes we just through the items in a box, and tape it  and with some of our treasured belongings, we bubble wrap them carefully, mark the box and then tape it. We don’t abandon the valuable belongings because we don’t want to break them, nor do we skip the bubble wrapping, right? We are not any different and this goes for everyone and not just the hypermobile.

The focus of the treatment has to be the recognition of what is not safe, learning how our joints like to move and since the connective tissue, which means everything but your bones essentially, is lax, we need to bring in more of the right muscles working together to provide a safer move. THIS is where the rehab world fails also.

Once you understand the mechanics of movement, it is through repetition without compromising the principles of movement that you build strength. This goes for everyone btw.

Who Treats Joint Hypermobility?

All rehab clinicians who treat hypermobility are a good fit. Rehab clinicians are not just physical therapists but chiropractors and occupational therapists who do exercise with patients are great fits. The key is they must know how to treat hypermobility.

I am for instance a chiropractor by license and adjust patients on occasion though my hypermobile patients are not adjusted in certain areas (such as neck) unless I have clarity of certain presentations. The adjustments are NEVER the same as those of the Normies no matter what. With that said, my practice is fully focused on functional movement and postural stability. This is the reason why I see so many patients with joint hypermobility.

I do brain and body exercises that are NOT the same as a gym workout or generic exercises. I know that my hypermobile bodies behave differently and have specific needs. I do Developmental Exercises that are gentle and easy to do on the joints but challenging for my hypermobile patients. What I do in my practice as a chiropractor is not the same as a high majority of my colleagues.

How Do I Find The Right Clinician For My Hypermobility Treatment?

Consult the EDS Society provider list, call and interview the office. Do a web search, read the reviews, and contact the office. See if you can have a short time with the clinician; trust your gut feeling and make sure the provider understands the joint hypermobility presentations. Ask the related closed groups that you belong to and still go through the process to vet the provider.

If you have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, or other connective tissue disorders causing joint hypermobility, contact me for a Solution Session or Telehealth Coaching.

Dr. Shakib