19 Feb WHAT IS HYPERMOBILITY?
Hyper-mobility or, in layman’s terms, being “double-jointed” refers to the increased or over mobility or movement of the joints of the spine and/or other joints of the body beyond their normal range, a condition caused by the body’s connective tissue being too “stretchy”. The tendons and ligaments (soft tissues) do not provide adequate support to the joints and this results in more movement at those joints than one would usually expect.
A patient is diagnosed by confirming that he/she can do certain movements, including but not limited to, the following:
- Pulling back the thumb to touch the forearm,
- Bending over and placing both hands flat on the ground without bending the knees,
- Considerable arching of the back,
- Overextending the elbows and/knees
Between 20 – 30 percent of the population is hyper-mobile to a certain extent, either in an isolated joint or throughout their body. The condition is more prevalent in females than in males, in Asian and Afro-Caribbean ethnicities, as well as in younger people since mobility generally decreases with age.
Some patients suffer with the condition from early life due to soft tissue deficiencies (collagen, elastin, fibrillin, tenascin) while some develop the condition over time as a result of their over-involvement in activities which repetitively stretch certain joints and muscles (e.g. gymnastics, yoga, etc).
In some cases, joint hyper-mobility is of no medical consequence and will not give rise to any symptoms. It may even be considered advantageous for some due to the extra range of movement it allows (e.g. athletes, dancers, gymnasts, etc). For others, hyper-mobility may be associated with pain, fatigue, injuries of the joints and ligaments, and other symptoms.
Hyper-mobile individuals may injure the soft tissues around joints easily because their joints can twist and overextend easily, potentially dislocating these joints (either partially or fully). While the recovery period may be longer than normal, the majority of patients fully recover from such injuries. Some, however, only partially recover and some injure the various parts of their body repeatedly.
Injuries associated with hyper-mobility can therefore cause immediate acute pain but may also lead to long-term pain which can be severe, widespread and persisting.
The severity of symptoms, the affected joints, and/or the level of pain and fatigue that patients experience can vary on a daily basis and can interfere with the daily activities associated with schooling or working or just living in general.
Treatment is focussed on improving the patient’s balance, joint awareness and control. Osteopaths assist in treatment by placing emphasis on the development of the patient’s core strength and increasing the stability of their muscles and joints through certain exercises and movement. Exercises such as Pilates and swimming are preferred as they assist in activating the muscles of the entire body to support all the joints, rather than targeting a particular joint or movement in isolation.
A hip specialist in Camberley can help resolve your hyper-mobility issues. We are also available in Frimley & Guildford. Improve your quality of life today.