What Is Hypermobility?

What Is Hypermobility?

Hypermobility, also known as joint hypermobility or hypermobility syndrome, refers to the ability of a person’s joints to move beyond the normal range of motion. It is a connective tissue disorder that impacts your ligaments, tendons, and muscles, making them more elastic and flexible. While some level of flexibility is beneficial for activities like gymnastics, dance, and yoga, extreme hypermobility can lead to joint instability, pain, and other complications. Bear in mind that hypermobility is a systemic condition and in this blog, we will explore joint hypermobility.

What Causes Hypermobility?

While hypermobility is genetic, it impacts the collagen structure where the protein is faulty leading to too lax of ligaments. Hypermobility can be seen in conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or EDS, Marfan Syndrome, and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder or HSD.

What Are Symptoms Of Hypermobility?

Not everyone with hypermobility experiences symptoms and I have written a blog about the full symptoms previously. In short, they are:

  • Joint pain and discomfort
  • Frequent joint dislocations or subluxations, including the ribs
  • Fatigue
  • Soft, stretchy skin
  • Digestive issues
  • Getting dizzy when getting up
  • Feeling tension in muscles
  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Tachycardia or increased heart rate
  • Dental and gum issues
  • Cornea issues
  • A high number of scoliosis

How Do I Tell If I Am Hypermobile?

Following are some of the ways you can find out if you are hypermobile.

  • Assess Your Joint Flexibility

One of the most straightforward ways to determine if you are hypermobile is to assess the flexibility of your joints using the Beighton Score, a simple and widely used screening tool. The Beighton Score consists of nine tests, and you receive one point for each positive result and a score of four or more out of nine suggests joint hypermobility.

  • Hands flat on the floor: (1 point)

Can you bend forward and place your palms flat on the ground without bending your knees?

  • Elbows: (1 for each one)

Can you hyperextend your elbows beyond 10 degrees?

  • Knees: (1 for each one)

Can you hyperextend your knees beyond 10 degrees?

  • Thumbs: (1 for each one)

Can you bend your thumbs to touch your forearm?

  • Little fingers: (1 for each one)

Can you bend your little fingers back beyond 90 degrees?

  • Look For Other Signs And Symptoms

Other than Beighton score, look for the following:

  • Recurrent joint injuries:

Do you frequently experience sprains, strains, or dislocations?

  • Chronic pain:

Do you have persistent pain in your joints, muscles, or both?

  • Soft tissue injuries:

Are you prone to tendonitis or bursitis?

  • Fatigue:

Do you often feel excessively tired, especially after physical activities?

  • Family history:

Do other members of your family have similar symptoms or have been diagnosed with hypermobility-related conditions?

  • Seek Professional Evaluation

If you suspect you have hypermobility, make sure you see a provider who treats hypermobility. You can search online, look for a provider list on the EDS Society Provider List, and local and regional FB groups. I am a licensed rehabilitation chiropractor that treats predominantly joint hypermobility and no, that does not mean I adjust them. In fact, I rarely adjust my hypermobile patients with a few exception cases. If I suspect further genetic testing, then I refer them to the center that I normally refer to for genetic testing.

  • Genetic Testing

This can help identify specific genetic mutations associated with conditions like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or Marfan Syndrome, bear in mind that not every type of EDS will have an associated genetic mutation.

How Is Hypermobility Managed?

Management of hypermobility should involve lifestyle, diet, and sometimes medication use may be in order. Here are some of what I go over and emphasize with my patients.

Lifestyle Modifications

  • Regular exercise:

I recommend starting and always including developmental exercises such as Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS). You may visit my IG page for some of the examples.

  • Avoid overextending:

Be cautious with activities that require excessive flexibility or put strain on your joints. I am more inclined to recommend Pilates vs yoga for this reason.

  • Joint protection:

Use braces or supports during activities that put stress on your joints and the link I have included is a collection of what I and my Bendy patients like.

Physical Rehabilitation.

This can be done by a physical therapist who treats hypermobility, A Rehab. chiropractor who treats hypermobility, or Occupational therapists who specialize in hypermobility. What is done to the non-hypermobile population by physical therapists, chiropractors or occupational therapists is not the right fit for the Bendy population.

At my clinic, I am all about finding out with my patients their wrong tendencies and replacing them with the correct posture and movement. My patients need to be my apprentice, looking at their hypermobility as their project; this is the only way they can predict, prevent, and solve any movement and joint-related issues in the future.

Pain Management

For those experiencing chronic pain, pain management strategies may include:

  • Medications:

Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications may be necessary. Bear in mind that you can do specific tests to determine what meds work best for you if you don’t respond well to pain medications.

  • Heat and cold therapy:

Applying heat or cold packs to painful joints can provide relief. This is a trial and error and can vary from day to day.

  • Massage therapy:

Massages can help reduce muscle tension and pain but regular point pressure therapy is not the best fit. Broad contact and not deep pressure seem to be the best method.

Surgical Intervention

In severe cases where joint damage or instability is significant, surgical intervention may be necessary. This is typically considered a last resort when other treatments have not been effective.

If you suspect you have hypermobility and want to find out or if you have hypermobility and want to treat your joint and movement issues, contact me.

Dr. Shakib

Recommended Reading:

Craniocervical Instability and Hypermobility: Diagnosis and Treatment

Step By Step Exercise For Joint Stability In Hypermobility?