There are several cases of hypermobility, such as misaligned joints and abnormally shaped ends of the bones at a particular joint. However, as in my case, it is when the collagen in the joint is defective and results in weakened ligaments, muscles and tendons. It can even lead to osteoporosis.
It has also been shown that the condition may be genetic and can run in families. Double jointed is used to describe people with the condition, but this isn’t accurate; there are is no extra joints anywhere just the tendency for them to stretch more than they should.
In real terms, this means an individual is prone to strains and sprains because the joints stretch too far and cause these problems and is called ‘joint hypermobility syndrome’. So where someone may slip and be fine, someone with hypermobility can slip and end up with a sprain, which can be quite painful. Repetitive movements can also cause problems, such as picking up a bag in a certain way repeatedly which strains the joint and causes pain.
People with hypermobility can also suffer muscle fatigue due to muscles working harder due to the weakness of the joint. It can also be associated with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia as well as the physical symptoms. There are also studies suggesting that hypermobility may be symptomatic of serious conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteogenesis imperfecta and polio.
Hypermobility syndrome is a combination of hypermobility with symptoms such as myalgia (muscle pain) and arthralgia (joint pain). It is common in children and more likely to occur in females than males.
As with hypermobility, it can lead to sprains and strains as well as joint pain. It can bring on early-onset osteoarthritis in teen years as well as knee pain and back pain. Joints often make clicking noises when moving and people suffering find they have a poor response to anaesthetic or pain medication. It can often be the condition described as ‘growing pains’ in children.
Keeping mobile is crucial for all aspects of hypermobility to try and prevent reoccurring injuries. Exercise and physical or hydrotherapy can help increase muscle strength to avoid injuries as well as low impact exercises such as Pilates. High impact sports are not as recommended such as jogging as this can jar the joints and cause injuries.
Heat packs are good to relieve the pain in joints and ice packs may work for swelling associated with a particularly injury. Medications are given to reduce pain as well as inflammation though some anti-inflammatory drugs can actually make the condition worse.
Finally, lifestyle changes can help manage the condition such as sitting instead of standing for long periods and using a kickboard when swimming to avoid hyperextending joints.
Hypermobility isn’t a condition which can be ‘fixed’ but it can be managed with a combination of exercise and management of lifestyle. If someone in the family has the condition, watch the children as it may come out in them and the earlier it is diagnosed, the easier it is to learn to manage it. I was 33 before I was diagnosed and have a curve in my spine because of it. Had it been diagnosed when I was younger, perhaps this may not have been as severe. So be vigilant and be aware.