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Hypermobility & Physiotherapy: Relief & Stability

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Hypermobility & Physiotherapy: Relief & Stability

Hypermobility refers to an increased range of motion in one or more joints beyond the normal limit. It usually affects children and younger adults, and often improves with age. Hypermobility can often become symptomatic, leading to pain. 

Hypermobility is a spectrum of symptoms and conditions, including:

  • Generalized joint and ligament laxity or looseness
    But can also include a number of connective tissue disorders including:
  • Marfan Syndrome & Ehler Danlos Syndrome (EDS)

Managing hypermobility requires a multidisciplinary approach, with physiotherapy playing a crucial role in treatment.

Understanding Hypermobility:

Hypermobility can affect various joints in the body, including the fingers, elbows, shoulders, knees, and spine. It is often associated with laxity in the connective tissues, such as ligaments and tendons, which provide stability to the joints. Conditions like EDS and Marfan syndrome involve genetic defects in the connective tissue, leading to widespread hypermobility and other systemic manifestations.

Read more: Physiotherapy for Osteoarthritis: Improve Mobility & Reduce Pain

Formal Diagnosis and Healthcare Professional Involvement:

Before embarking on any treatment, it is essential for individuals with hypermobility to receive a formal diagnosis from a healthcare professional. A thorough assessment, including medical history, physical examination, and possibly genetic testing, can help determine the underlying cause of hypermobility and guide appropriate management strategies.

Physiotherapy for Hypermobility:

Physiotherapy plays a central role in managing hypermobility by addressing joint stability, muscle strength, and functional limitations. Treatment aims to improve proprioception (awareness of joint position) and neuromuscular control to prevent injuries and enhance overall physical function. Here's what physiotherapy involves in the treatment for hypermobility:

  • Muscle Strengthening: Physiotherapists design tailored exercise programs focusing on strengthening the muscles surrounding hypermobile joints. Strengthening these muscles helps provide additional support and stability to the joints, reducing the risk of dislocations and subluxations.
  • Joint Stabilization: Specific exercises and techniques are employed to improve joint stability and control. This may include proprioceptive training, balance exercises, and functional movement patterns to enhance joint proprioception and reduce the risk of instability.

Flexibility vs. Hypermobility: Jargon Buster:

  • Flexibility: Refers to the ability of muscles and connective tissues to lengthen and move through a range of motion. Flexibility is essential for joint mobility and function but should be balanced with strength and stability to prevent hypermobility-related issues.
  • Hypermobility: Characterized by excessive joint mobility beyond the normal range, often due to laxity in the connective tissues. While flexibility is desirable to a certain extent, hypermobility can predispose individuals to joint instability, pain, and injuries.

In conclusion, physiotherapy is a cornerstone of treatment for hypermobility, addressing joint stability, muscle strength, and functional limitations. Through targeted exercise programs, manual therapy techniques, and education, physiotherapists empower individuals with hypermobility to manage their condition effectively and improve their quality of life.

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  • Grahame R. Hypermobility: an important but often neglected area within rheumatology. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2012;8(6):364-372. doi:10.1038/nrrheum.2012.74
  • Scheper MC, de Vries JE, Verbunt J, Engelbert RH. Chronic pain in hypermobility syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hypermobility type): it is a challenge. J Pain Res. 2015;8:591-601. doi:10.2147/JPR.S64171
  • NHS Choices - Joint Hypermobility Syndrome 
  • Palmer S, Bailey S, Barker L, Barney L, Elliott A. The effectiveness of therapeutic exercise for joint hypermobility syndrome: a systematic review. Physiotherapy. 2014;100(3):220-227. doi:10.1016/ 

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.

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