Calling all those “double-jointed” people out there! Are you able to push your joints past what is considered a normal range of motion? Or, perhaps dislocate your thumbs at will?
While it can be a fun party trick (and an easy way to get a reaction out of anyone a bit squeamish!), this kind of extreme flexibility can actually put you at risk for a host of other injuries.
If you’ve experienced an abnormal range of motion around your joints, have had frequent dislocations or hyperextensions from physical activity, you may be dealing with a larger issue: hypermobility syndrome.
Don’t fret– there’s good news for those living with hypermobility syndrome! If you think this condition may be responsible for some of the joint issues that you’ve experienced, there are some relatively easy and accessible ways to manage and treat this condition. In this article, we’re diving into the causes of hypermobility as well as some steps you can take toward better joint health.
What Is Hypermobility Syndrome?
Hypermobility syndrome refers to people who have loose joints. What is a “loose” joint, you ask? A loose joint is one in which the connective tissues (namely the ligaments and joint capsule) that surround a joint have too much laxity. Normally, these connective tissues serve as a defense mechanism and serve as protection to keep joints from moving out of their normal range of motion. However, when these tissues are too loose, the joints are significantly less stable.
As a result of this instability and lack of control, many who have hypermobility syndrome experience pain and stiffness in the joints, frequent and recurring dislocations, and muscle and tendon sprains and spasms.
Causes Of Hypermobility
How does the connective tissue become “loose?” Though this can be developed through certain sports, like gymnastics or overstretching in yoga, it is usually the result of a change in chemical process that breaks down collagen fibers in your body, resulting in increased elasticity. This form of hypermobility is most often an inherited hereditary condition, and can also be indicative of an underlying condition of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS).
Generally, people with hypermobility feel flare-ups in symptoms following exercise or physical activity.
Treatment For Hypermobility
First and foremost, if you believe you may have hypermobility syndrome, it’s best to seek out medical help. A doctor can provide an accurate diagnosis, set you on the right track for healing, and also ensure that you don’t have other more serious compounding factors. That said, if joint hypermobility has been an issue for you, the good news is that there are some relatively simple, yet effective, methods for management and treatment.
Pain Relief Through Compression
Of course, nobody wants to be in pain or discomfort. If you’re looking for natural methods to relieve hypermobility pain, you may want to consider occasionally wearing postural or compressive garments. These garments can provide your joints a little more stability and support, offering relief to your system.
Focus On Strength For Long-Term Health
A lack of strength combined with loose connective tissue is a recipe for disaster. When your connective tissue is already unable to do its normal stabilizing job, more of the weight for joint health and control falls to the surrounding muscles.
Thus, focusing on the right strength training exercises can be extremely beneficial to treating this condition. Because your connective tissues are more loose than they should be, muscle strength becomes so much more important. In essence, your muscles can do what your connective tissue cannot: build and improve strength. Increased muscle strength and proprioception will give you more control over your body movement and help to safeguard against sprains and painful dislocations.
A strength training routine for someone with hypermobility should be individualized by a doctor or physical therapist, and very low-impact in nature. These exercises will help strengthen the muscles that support your joints.
The Role Of Chiropractic Care In Joint Health
Another great way to manage hypermobility syndrome is to seek out a chiropractic practitioner. Chiropractic care is a fantastic non-invasive modality to use in your journey toward joint health. A chiropractic practitioner uses gentle adjustments of the spine and extremities to help to realign your body, decrease pressure, and provide real relief to your system. These adjustments allow your body to restore proper function, which is especially helpful when managing the joint dysfunction that hypermobility can cause.
Your practitioner will be able to support your specific needs by taking a personalized approach to each session, and will meet you at your unique starting point. Additionally, should any at-home strength exercises be beneficial to help your recovery process, your chiropractor will be able to help with this, too.
Seek out the right care to keep your joints happy and healthy.