Joints that are more flexible, or that move in greater amounts compared to normal ranges of motion, are considered to be hypermobile. Joint hypermobility is often a family trait, where the gene results in a change to the connective tissue (skin, ligaments, tendons) allowing that joint to stretch further than would be considered normal. There are some professions or hobbies that benefit from such a condition, for example ballet dancers, musicians or gymnasts. Hypermobile joints don’t have to occur in every joint in a person’s body, where only one joint may be affected. Joints may be hypermobile due to slightly altered bone shape, decreased muscle tone or a decreased sensitivity to a muscle stretching.
Whilst there are benefits from being ‘double jointed’ or having ‘lax joints’, there are still unpleasant symptoms commonly associated:
- Recurrent injuries (i.e. ankle sprains)
- Digestive conditions (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Easy bruising
- Joint pain
- Neck and back pain
How to assess?
To assess hypermobility in a person the Beighton score is calculated where they must be able to achieve the following:
- You can place palms on the ground with legs straight while standing forward bending
- Elbow bends backwards
- Knee bends backwards
- Thumb touches the forearm when bent backwards
- Little finger bends backwards beyond 90 degrees.
Another way in which we can assess hypermobility is from the ‘hypermobility questionnaire’. An answer of ‘Yes’ to 2 or more of the questions gives a very high prediction of the presence of hypermobility. This however does not mean that the person has Hypermobility Syndrome.
- Can you now (or could you ever) place your hands flat on the floor without bending your knees?
- Can you now (or could you ever) bend your thumb to touch your forearm?
- As a child did you amuse your friends by contorting your body into strange shapes OR could you do the splits?
- As a child or teenager did your shoulder or kneecap dislocate on more than one occasion?
- Do you consider yourself double-jointed?
How physio can help you?
Physiotherapy guided strengthening programs are proven to be effective in minimizing any associated injuries that a patient may be susceptible to. By strengthening the active joint stabilizers we can lessen the impact on the impaired passive stabilizers
If you have any questions or concerns about how to best manage loose joints, or were interested in seeing if we can help you, feel free to give us a call. Here at Thornleigh Performance Physiotherapy, we can give you an accurate diagnosis and treatment, as well as advice on the best course of action for your condition to get you back in action sooner than you could’ve imagined. We have an expertise in musculoskeletal physiotherapy and are conveniently located near Westleigh, Beecroft, Cherrybrook, Hornsby, Normanhurst, Pennant Hills, Wahroonga, West Pennant Hills, and West Pymble. So give us a call on (02) 8411 2050 to get started on a journey to a better you.