Hypermobility

Hypermobility is the ability of the joints to move much further than their normal range. Hypermobile joints are sometimes referred to as lax joints. The condition may be limited to a few joints or it can be widespread. It may also be an entity on its own, or it can be associated with connective tissue disorders such as Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, joint hypermobility syndrome, and osteogenesis imperfecta. Finally, it can be asymptomatic or symptomatic.

Symptoms

The symptoms vary according to the condition with which hypermobility is associated. However, some of the common symptoms include:

  • Possible delay with gross motor skills.
  • Pain, mainly in the affected joints.
  • Feeling of tiredness and fatigue much sooner than compared to the normal.
  • Increased risk of injury to the muscles or joints due to laxity and hyper extensibility.
  • Increased frequency of falls.
  • Easy bruising.
  • Increased risk of fractures and a slower healing time in comparison to normal.

What You Can Do

  • Continue engaging in normal physical activities, such as cycling and swimming, to maintain weight, general fitness, overall wellbeing, and quality of life.
  • Take regular breaks if you experience pain during an activity instead of avoiding the activity completely. This will help to gradually build muscle strength and endurance.
  • Make sure you take adequate rests between activities and follow a regular sleeping pattern.
  • Avoid self-subluxating your joints.

What Is the Role of Physiotherapy?

The role of physiotherapy is to provide:

  • Exercises and activities to progress gross motor skills (if there is a delay).
  • Strengthening exercises for stabilising hypermobile joints.
  • Stretching exercises, if some muscles are noted to be tight.
  • Exercises for improving and optimising posture.
  • Exercises to improve strength of the abdominals and trunk muscles. This will improve balance as well as fine motor abilities.
  • Advice and demonstrate correct movement patterns so the right muscles are used, preventing joint strain while performing activities of daily living.
  • Balance exercises for working on joint proprioception to improve feedback from the joints. This helps to enhance muscle activity and prevent injuries.
  • Exercises which can be easily incorporated in PE sessions to advise which activities might need to be temporarily avoided or appropriately paced.
  • Assessment and referral for supportive footwear.
  • Advice or work jointly with the occupational therapist for assessing suitability of equipment such as classroom seating, aids, and appliances.

What If Symptomatic Hypermobility Is Left Untreated?

The symptoms can become chronic, causing the individual to limit physical activities. This in turn can cause further deconditioning and increase weakness in the muscles. In the long term, it can affect their overall health and wellbeing.

Prognosis

Exercises are effective in decreasing pain, improving muscle strength and endurance, delaying fatigue, and improving the overall quality of life. According to the hypermobility guidelines of The British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology, the long-term outlook is very positive and, with correct management strategies, children or young adults should be able to participate in all activities with or without professional support.

Contact us now, in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, for further information about the beneficial effect our paediatric physiotherapy has on children with hypermobility.