In many activities, like dancing, yoga and gymnastics, an increase in joint mobility is considered advantageous. But for some people hypermobility comes with an increase in joint pain, fatigue, an increased risk of injury and for a small number it can be a symptom of an underlying Heritable Disorder of Connective Tissue.
A joint is considered hypermobile when it moves beyond the normal range. Hypermobility can exist at just one or two joints, within your peripherals or it may be widespread though out most joints. Around 10% of the population is hypermobile but most will not have any symptoms.
Congenital hypermobility can be split into two main areas: Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) and Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome(hEDS). HSD encompasses individuals who have hypermobility related problems but do not have a Heritable Disorder of Connective tissue.
How do you know if you are hypermobile?
There are two screening tools that are commonly used to look for generalised hypermobility: The five-part questionnaire and the Beighton score.
To answer the five-part questionnaire below it is good to start by thinking back to when you were a teenager. Our joints tend to stiffen as we get older and therefore, they do not give a good representation of the underlying mobility.
- Can you now (or could you ever) place your hands flat on the floor without bending your knees?
- Can you now (or could you ever) bend your thumb to touch your forearm?
- As a child did you amuse your friends by contorting your body into strange shapes or could you do the splits?
- As a child or teenager did your shoulder or kneecap dislocate on more than one occasion?
- Do you consider yourself double-jointed?
Your Physiotherapist will run you through the Beighton’s score which looks at the range of motion of your fingers, thumb, elbows, back and knees through a series of manoeuvres.
How can Physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy can be greatly beneficial for people with hypermobility related pain in both reducing symptoms and prescribing an appropriate exercise program designed to ensure that the joints are well supported by the surrounding musculature. Physiotherapy combined with Physio-led Pilates is often found to be the treatment of choice for these conditions.