What is Hypermobility Syndrome?
Hypermobility syndrome is a syndrome having to do with the laxity, or how loose, your joints are. It is a disorder of the connective tissue that makes up your joint capsule, ligaments, tendons, etc.
People who are hypermobile are able to move their joints more than others. Hypermobility can be associated with numerous genetic disorders such as benign joint hypermobility syndrome (BJHS), Marfan syndrome, or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Types of Hypermobility
1. Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome
BJHS is typically recognized in a patient once they begin having joint pain. Your primary care doctor will ask about your history. Maybe you consider yourself double-jointed or have had multiple sprains or dislocations. These are indicators that you may have hypermobile joints. BJHS is benign in that it will not get worse over time, but it can cause complications.
2. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
EDS is a group of genetic disorders characterized by hypermobile joints, but also include skin hyperelasticity and fragility. Depending on the type of EDS, you may also have extra-stretchy skin or easily torn or bruised skin. The different types of EDS have different characteristics. For more information on the different types of EDS, click here.
3. Marfan Syndrome
With Marfan syndrome you have the hypermobility in the joints, but you also have disorders of the heart and eye.
For more information on these different disorders, check out this article in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
Diagnosing Hypermobility Syndrome
If you have one of the genetic forms, a geneticist can provide the diagnosis through genetic testing. There are also clinical exams a doctor or therapist can use to determine if you are hypermobile. One of these tests is called the Beighton Score. Stayed tuned for an upcoming blog on Diagnosing Hypermobility and the Beighton Score.
Implications of Hypermobility
Regardless of the type of hypermobility you have, there are similar implications and complications. People who are hypermobile tend to have more frequent sprains and dislocations. They are also more likely to develop soft tissue injuries from overuse. We typically see patients once they are past the point of just joint pain. By the time they arrive in our office, they have developed some form of tendonitis. This is typically because their muscles are working extra hard to stabilize the joints. Over time, the extra wear and tear on the joint surfaces from the extra movement can lead to arthritis. Knowing how to manage your pain and keeping your body strong will help long term.
Living with Hypermobility
One of the two biggest areas we address when treating a hypermobile patient is bracing. Your therapist can help you find the best braces to support your hypermobile joints. Braces can really help with the pain you may be experiencing.
Office ergonomics are equally as important as bracing, if not more! If you are spending the majority of your day working at a desk, a proper set up will be important to ensure your joints are working in their optimal positions. Your therapist may recommend changes to your desk set-up to help decrease your pain. Check out the other ergonomic services we offer here.
Core strength and overall strength will be paramount when living with hyper-mobile joints. Keep your muscles strong will help reduce the wear and tear on your hypermobile joints. You must practice slow and controlled movements when exercising to be sure you are not overstretching your joints.
Are you experiencing unexplained joint pain? Were you recently diagnosed with EDS or hypermobility? Do you have questions about your diagnosis? The certified hand therapists of LB Hand Therapy are here to help. Find out how to become a patient.