What Are Signs Of Hypermobility?

What Are Signs Of Hypermobility?

While joint flexibility can be impressive, it is commonly confused with hypermobility. Hypermobile individuals have quite a range of motion in their joints but with a set of challenges and potential health implications. In this blog, I will cover what hypermobility is and how to recognize its presence in yourself or others.

What Are Common Signs Of Hypermobility?

Recognizing hypermobility is the first step toward understanding what to do for hypermobility treatment. FI has listed some of the common signs of hypermobility that you may recognize:

  • Joint Hyperextension

Your joints can bend beyond the normal range of motion, which most refer to as “double-jointedness, especially in the knees, elbows, fingers, and thumbs.

  • Joint Pain

Chronic joint pain, especially in large joints like the knees, hips, and shoulders, is a common symptom of hypermobility. This is most often a result of the laxity in the ligaments which is important in the stability of the joints. The fact that the Bendys’ ligaments don’t contract like the Normies, is one of the reasons why the hypermobile population typically has a weaker proprioception (knowledge of where you are in space at a given time). That is the reason why typically the ‘stop’ point of a joint in the hypermobile population is beyond what it should be, causing pain.

  • Joint Instability

Thumb being pressed showing hyperextensionHypermobility can lead to joint instability, making it easier for joints to dislocate or subluxate (partially dislocate). Again, ligament laxity and weaker proprioception play a role here. I have written a blog on hypermobility treatment that addresses this issue a bit more which I am including at the bottom of this blog.

  • Soft Skin

Most often the skin is softer because hypermobility is a connective tissue condition where the collagen makeup is different. This impacts all soft tissue including the skin. In my practice, every hypermobile patient I see has soft and sensitive skin. This means that when using sports tape, it is best to use the sensitive skin tape and remove it with an adhesive remover vs pulling it off!

  • Easy Bruising

Connective tissue includes blood vessels and because it is altered in hypermobility, it is much easier for the blood vessels to rupture and cause bruising.

  • Muscle Weakness

We typically test muscle strength by muscle testing and I know typically the claim is that muscles are weaker in the hypermobile population. I do question the lack of ‘strength’ being the muscles being weaker though. We know that the ligaments are lax so how is a muscle going to show off its strength if its connections are weak? I do see that in my practice which is fully catered to my hypermobile patients with the specific hypermobile protocols that we do, I see strength in the muscle performance. The key is to ‘frame’ the movements differently given what the hypermobile body has to offer.

  • Fatigue

The body spends quite a bit of energy trying to stabilize the joints and balance the body. With hypermobility, this most likely becomes the reason behind chronic fatigue.

  • Delayed Motor Development In Children

It seems that children with hypermobility have delays in developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling, and walking. Hypermobility is a connective tissue disorder where the collagen makeup is different. This can be from some types of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome where the genes are identified or Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder and other types of connective tissue conditions.

  • Recurrent Joint Dislocations Or Subluxations

Frequent joint dislocations or subluxations, especially in the shoulders, knees, and fingers, are typical in hypermobile individuals. This is a common problem with a rather easy fix that requires you to be mindful of movements. We all need to understand that ‘bubble-wrapping’ our treasured belongings when moving is a smart thing to do regardless of hypermobility.

  • Joint Clicking Or Popping

Noisy joints, such as clicking or popping sounds, can occur due to joint laxity. I don’t worry about the clicking or popping since the noise is simply the release of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide from the joint fluid. If the clicking and popping has pain, then we should look into it.

  • Flat Feet Or High Arches

Hypermobility affects all joints including the feet and its many little bones. In most cases, I see flat feet happen when standing; that is when the ligaments connecting the little bones relax and the arch collapses. In cases of high arches, I see over-compensation when walking and I only see high arches when standing to avoid pain.

  • Gastrointestinal Issues

You may experience GI symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The motility issue is from dysautonomia and also from the laxity of connective tissue. It can also be from the weak postural stabilizers and pelvic floor dysfunction. I have written blogs on hypermobility and pelvic floor dysfunction that I will include below.

  • Cardiovascular Symptoms

Mitral valve prolapse or aortic root dilatation is common especially a specific subtype of a hypermobility condition called cEDS. It is good to have a good heart health lifestyle in general anyway! Just because there is an increased chance does not mean that you are doomed so live life the right way, the preventative way- and get checked regularly depending on where you are at with your heart health.

What Are Less Common Signs Of Hypermobility?

The following list of less common signs of hypermobility will still allow you to recognize hypermobility so you can better understand the why behind your symptoms and ‘bubble wrap’ your movement safer and better while addressing the non-joint related symptoms with a clinician and health care provider who understands hypermobility.

  • Autonomic Dysfunction

In my practice, I see many patients with different levels of dysautonomia, which is a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. This is part of your nervous system in charge of things in your body that you don’t have much control over, like digestive movements, blood vessel constriction/dilation, and heart beat. Symptoms of dysautonomia can include POTS which can be feeling dizzy when getting up to even fainting, lightheadedness, palpitations, and temperature dysregulation.

Managing stress plays a big role in the intensity and frequency of the presentations here so taking the right electrolytes makes a difference. You can take a look at my favorite products on my website.

  • Chronic Pain Syndromes

While joint pain is common in hypermobility, some individuals may also experience widespread chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). In my practice, I have seen a few CRPS patients who were not hypermobile and I have never seen a hypermobile person with CRPS. Fibromyalgia is a whole different blog and what my view on that is!

  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction

Hypermobility impacts all joints including the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. This in part is related to cranio-cervical instability, and neck and breathing issues that exist. I see plenty of patients with TMJ issues who are not hypermobile and while Craniocervical instability is rather unique to connective tissue disorders, instability of the head over the neck is seen in plenty of non-hypermobile patients.

  • Neurological Symptoms

Your nerves are soft tissue that does not like to be compressed or stretched. They are capable of both but don’t like them over a long time or to the extreme. Because hypermobility is a connective tissue disorder, and the joints, muscles, and all tissues including the internal organs are more ‘loose’, they can put pressure (from let’s say muscles lagging and buckling over the nerve passing through) or overly stretch because the joints are loose. Other presentations end up putting undue stress on the nerves causing issues with pain and nerve symptoms.

  • Psychological Symptoms

Chronic pain and physical limitations associated with hypermobility can contribute to psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or mood disorders. This can also be another presentation of dysautonomia.

  • Dental Issues

Some hypermobile individuals have thin enamel over their teeth which makes them get dental cavities more often. Many are also mouth breathers which dries up their saliva which protects our teeth. Because hypermobility is a connective tissue disorder and our gums are connective tissue, it is easy to see the gums receding causing issues with oral health.

  • Vision Problems

Certain eye conditions, such as myopia (nearsightedness), astigmatism, or retinal detachment, because our eyes are also connective tissue.

  • Skin Disorders

While soft skin is a common sign of hypermobility, stretch marks and scar tissue are seen in some hypermobile individuals.

  • Endocrine Dysfunction

There seems to be a relationship between hypermobility, adrenal insufficiency, and thyroid dysfunction. Is it because autoimmunity is common among the hypermobile population and the common type of autoimmunity is Hashimotos? Adrenal glands are in charge of fight or flight and stress management so it seems to not be surprising that it is commonly seen among the hypermobile population.

The correlation between the two seems to exist but how they are related is still not clear. Perhaps when we understand why ADHD exists and what causes it, we can connect the dots here!

If you have hypermobility, it is so important to make sure you see clinicians and health care providers who know and treat hypermobility. For instance in my world which is physical medicine, my treatment for the Bendy population is very much customized to the group; while I see mostly hypermobile patients, I know how to avoid injuries while trying to treat the painful joints and weak posture. The agenda has to go beyond pain to prevent injuries which has its unique protocol.

If you are hypermobile or think you may be hypermobile, contact me and if you are in another state or country, contact me here for telehealth coaching related to your joint instability, postural imbalance, and pelvic floor dysfunction stemming from that.

Dr. Shakib

Recommended Reading:

Hypermobility And Pain Relief

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction In The HyperMobile Population

13 Steps to Overcome Anxiety

13 Steps to Overcome Anxiety

Anxiety takes up space in so many lives and the human condition is to look for a quick fix for it. Maybe it’s in the form of supplements, medications, or talk therapy. And those may help to an extent, but never seem to solve the problem because you’ve only looked outside yourself for the “fix”. When you go inside and reconnect with your body, you can start to feel the true sense of safety you have been longing for. By adopting just one of these modalities as an everyday practice, it can make all the difference. It does take time, consistency, and awareness to start experiencing shifts. And sometimes those shifts are so minor that you have to keep looking back to see what has changed. Essentially, you are bringing your pre-frontal cortex (your consciousness) back online so that the subconscious is no longer running the show.

I want to share some of the tools I have found so beneficial for calming the nervous and limbic systems. There are multiple factors to consider regarding what works best for each type of person. Temperament and personality can also play a role. Ultimately, if you decide to take on individual modalities or join a program that teaches multiple tools, what resonates best will come to the surface and that is what you will use.

My List:

 

  • Meditation:

This is typically the low-hanging fruit and a go-to for many doctors to recommend. But listen, not everyone is cut out to meditate. Some people have short attention spans, others have nervous systems that are on fire and their body cannot bring itself to a calm enough state to experience the benefits. That is why you need to figure out what works for you based on where you are at in your healing journey of anxiety or illness. If you are ready for meditation, there are so many on YouTube. Start with some gentler, shorter guided practices such as yoga nidra and as you get more ingrained, maybe look into Joe Dispenza’s practices.

  • EFT:

Also known as Emotional Freedom Technique. This is a type of tapping on acupressure points while making statements to move energy and get into the subconscious. This has helped me when I’ve felt really stuck in the journey and needed to move some negative energy out. There is also something called Faster EFT. I still use this as needed. It helps me when I can’t let go of a thought that keeps coming back. Emphasize the word thought. You are not trying to get rid of an emotion. I used to think it was helpful for emotions I thought I “shouldn’t” feel. But when you say to yourself “I shouldn’t be feeling this way” that is invalidating how you truly feel. If you feel guilt, if you feel shame, if you feel anger, for any reason, acknowledge it. Feel into it. Send love and compassion to yourself. Saying you shouldn’t feel that way and trying to tap away the emotion will only make you feel it more. What we resist persists.

emotional freedom technique guideline

  • Pattern Interrupts:

You are going to find this at the core of any brain rewiring program. This is a top-down approach. Once you have identified the looping thoughts that are attached to old belief patterns- such as self-criticism, worrying about what others think, worrying about eating a certain food. When those thoughts come up, you identify the thought, recognize it is just a looping memory structure, and interrupt that thought. If that thought won’t go away or you are triggered into full rumination and compulsion (such as going online to research), this is where you can implement a form of EFT or a full “round”. Rounds typically include acknowledging a thought, stopping the thought, using an affirmation, and then visualization. That is the high level of it. If that resonates, I would recommend signing up for a brain rewiring program or working with a coach.

  • Somatics:

Also known as a bottom-up approach. This is getting back into the body and feeling our emotions and where the energy is stored in the body. There are multiple types of somatic practices. All tend to be very gentle but are intended to bring you back into the current moment, staying within yourself and not detaching. If you are curious about this, look up somatic tracking.

  • Orienting:

This is a form of somatics. Your subconscious and your conscious don’t typically speak the same language. When you are in a state of panic and your limbic system thinks a bear chasing you, telling yourself to calm down or that you are safe won’t always do the trick. You need to FEEL safety in your body to show your subconscious it’s ok. You can do this with orienting, a type of somatic practice. To do this you identify an object outside of yourself and discover all aspects of that object. How would it feel to touch it, hold it, etc.? Use your 5 senses. Then come back into your body while still looking at that object. Where are your hands? Are they folded in your lap? Are they hot, or cold? What sensations do you feel? And then do that again. This has helped me move out of a state of fear very quickly.

  • Grounding:

Put your bare feet in the dirt. Sounds gross right? Well, it might be if you have a lot of bugs in your soil, but the benefit of decreasing inflammation is huge. Sometimes when I’m walking my dog and I start feeling panic, I’ll take my shoes off, touch a tree, and just stand in the grass. I also envision roots going from my feet into the earth. If you don’t have grass or trees near where you live, there are grounding mats you can buy on Amazon such as Earth and Moon (that’s the one I have).

  • Energy Medicine:

One of my favorites. There are individual exercises you can do to release old energy and bring in light and love. A popular energy practice is Reiki. There are many Reiki practitioners out there easily searchable online. This can be done in person or remote.

  • Guided Breath-Work:

This takes somatic work and energy and combines them. Advanced breathwork, such as circular breathing, is not for the faint of heart and should be done with a practitioner. That type of breathwork really works on energy to bring it to the surface to be expelled from the body. It’s a true somatic release and it is so freeing. There are multiple levels of breathwork. Some more gentle breathwork practices can be done at home such as 1:1 breathing and 4-7-8 breath which are slow, deep breathing practices.

  • Vagal Toning:

If you’ve ever heard of Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, this can be a great a-ha moment to understand what’s going on with you. This one is so big I am going to dedicate an entire future post to explaining this and the Vagus nerve. If you aren’t familiar, I implore you to look it up now. Easy practices can be gargling as hard as you can multiple times a day or humming to a song for two minutes and building up.

polyvagal chart

  • Guided Inquiry:

Byron Katie created a process of self-inquiry to allow us to question stressful thoughts. Notably, you notice a stressful thought and go through a series of four questions, including “Is this true?”. If you don’t know who she is I recommend looking her up. The questions she brings up can help anyone struggling with old belief patterns that aren’t helpful

  • Heart Brain Coherence:

One of my favorites! I try to do this every single day. At least once, whether that is breathing into my heart center or doing a full gratitude practice, I always feel the beautiful effects in all the cells of my body. HeartMath and Joe Dispenza’s work deal a lot with heart-brain coherence. There are several free practices and meditations on YouTube and you can go to the HeartMath Institute’s website for more information.

Quick coherence technique here

shadow person with heart and brain

  • Journaling:

There are many types of journaling practices. One is expressive writing. Maybe you have ruminating thoughts or a mind that just won’t quit. Sit down with a pen and paper and just write out your stream of consciousness. Don’t think, just write. When you are done, rip off the paper and throw it away. How cathartic this practice is! Another type of journaling process I’ve learned is to write how you are feeling (again, without thinking), and to look back and discover trigger words you wrote out without realizing. A lot of times this can be emotional words such as sad, scared, and angry. It can give you a lot of insight into where your focus needs to go when you are creating awareness of your patterns.

  • Sound Healing:

I love sound healing! You can go to a sound bath in person or participate in one over Zoom. It can be so grounding and relaxing. We are energy. Our cells are energy. Everything is energy. And when you incorporate the frequencies of sound healing, it can do wonders for your cells. There is a beautiful video floating out there in the social media world about a guy who played different guitar notes that elicited different frequencies out by a lake. With each strum of the guitar, you could see the bugs “dance” on the water. It is so telling about the power of sound.

Brittany Langstaff

Brittany is a nervous system and transformational coach who helps clients uncover and challenge the limiting beliefs holding them back from living the life they want.