Joint hypermobility syndrome means that your joints are extremely flexible and can move beyond their ‘normal’ limits. You may have been called ‘double jointed’, or noticed that you’ve always been quite flexible even if you rarely stretch.
What causes hypermobility?
It is caused by the increased laxity in connective tissues throughout the body. Hypermobility is usually observed in childhood, and for some, persists into adulthood. It can be tested by checking the flexibility through various joints in the body using the Beighton Score.
In a majority of cases, hypermobility is hereditary and will have little impact on a person's life, aside from acknowledging that they are more flexible than others.
In much rarer cases, joint hypermobility is a result of a connective tissue disorder such as Marfan’s Syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, as well as in Down's Syndrome.
What does it feel like?
Many hypermobile people will never experience any painful symptoms. However, having loose ligaments and tissues may increase the risk of injuries such as joint sprains, dislocations and subluxations. For those that experience symptoms, these may include:
- Joint pain, particularly in the lower limbs
- Muscle fatigue and ‘growing pains’
- Appearance of clumsiness
This means it will become more important to maintain good muscle strength throughout your life, to reduce the risk of any joints ‘giving way’.
How is hypermobility treated?
If hypermobility is not causing you any pain, problems or is negatively impacting your daily life, it’s likely that you won’t need treatment. A percentage of children with joint hypermobility will also see an improvement in adulthood as their flexibility decreases.
Unfortunately for some, joint hypermobility does predispose them to develop other painful conditions such as posterior tibial tendon dysfunction secondary. Treatment will then focus on managing the symptoms or conditions as they arise, as opposed to the hypermobility itself.
Ways of managing hypermobility and its symptoms include:
- Maintaining good muscle strength will help stabilise joints and stop muscles from tiring out as fast where hypermobility may cause them to work harder than normal
- Using orthotics to help stabilise the feet at the ankles, providing additional support for the surrounding muscles
- Wearing good, supportive footwear that supports the feet in place as opposed to letting them easily roll at the ankle
Because hypermobility can impact people very differently, come in and see our team of knowledgeable Podiatrists if you have any concerns. We’ll develop a tailored management plan that is specific to your symptoms and daily activities to give you the best outcomes both now and in the years to come.