What is Hypermobility Syndrome?
Benign Hypermobility Syndrome is often referred to as being “double jointed”, however the diagnosis and treatment is more complex.
The main issue with Hypermobility Syndrome is excessive laxity of multiple joints in an otherwise healthy person. People with Hypermobility will present with recurrent neuromuscular complaints, which are often slow to recover.
Joint hypermobility happens most often in children and reduces with age. Joint mobility is highest at birth, there is a decrease in children around nine to twelve years old.
In adolescent girls, there is a peak at the age of fifteen years, after this age the joint mobility decreases, as well in boys as in girls. Hormonal changes that occur in puberty by adolescent girls, will influence the joint mobility. In general, hypermobility is more common in children than adults, is more common in girls than in boys, more common in Asian, African and Middle Eastern people.
What should I look out for?
The signs and symptoms of hypermobility syndrome are variable.
Most commonly, the initial complaint in a hypermobile patient is joint pain, which may affect one or multiple joints and may be generalized or more specific. Other complaints are muscle cramps and joint stiffness. People with hypermobility can suffer from joint dislocations.
There are several other medical conditions that will present with Hypermobility as a symptom. These include: –
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus)
If there is a suspicion that you have one or more of these conditions your GP or Specialist can order some tests.
How do I know if I have increased joint mobility?
There is no medical test for Benign Hypermobility Syndrome. Once the above medical conditions have been ruled out there is a set diagnostic criteria known as the Beighton score. Your physiotherapist should be familiar with the Beighton score and its application.
Your Physiotherapist will measure the above movements to determine whether or not you meet the diagnostic criteria for Hypermobility Syndrome.
What do I do if I am Hypermobile?
There is no medical management of Hypermobility Syndrome other than pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications.
Strengthening the muscles around your effected joints is the most effective way to treat Hypermobility Syndrome.
But what if it’s too painful to exercise? Your Physiotherapist is an expert at setting appropriate exercises which are gentle enough to not cause pain. Depending on the affected area it may be something as simple as moving your joint through its natural range of motion.
Can I play sport if I am Hypermobile?
There is no simple answer to this question. Activity modification is important so as to not put undue strain on the body, however if you have enough strength and control of your hypermobile joint you should be able to safely complete most sports.