How Physical Therapy Can Help with Hypermobility?

Hypermobility, characterized by excessive joint flexibility, can significantly impact daily life. Whether you have joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS) or a related condition like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), physical therapy plays a crucial role in managing symptoms and improving overall well-being.

In this article, we’ll delve into the specific ways PT can benefit those with hypermobility, from pain management to enhancing joint stability. 

What is hypermobility?

Hypermobility refers to an excessive range of motion in joints. Unlike most people, individuals with hypermobility can bend their joints beyond the typical limits. This increased flexibility can affect various joints, including the elbows, knees, fingers, and spine.
Impact on Daily Life

Joint Instability

  • Hypermobile joints lack stability due to loose ligaments and tendons.
  • Everyday movements, such as lifting objects or walking, may strain these unstable joints.

Pain and Discomfort

  • Frequent joint pain is common.
  • Overstretching of ligaments can lead to inflammation and discomfort.
  • Chronic pain affects daily activities.

Fatigue

  • Maintaining joint stability requires extra effort.
  • Fatigue sets in quickly during physical tasks.

Risk of Injury

  • Hypermobile individuals are prone to sprains, strains, and dislocations.
  • Vigilance is necessary to prevent accidental injuries.

Postural Challenges

  • Abnormal joint mobility affects posture.
  • Poor alignment can lead to back pain and muscle imbalances.

Psychosocial Impact

  • Coping with chronic pain and limitations can be emotionally draining.
  • Support networks and coping strategies are crucial.

Remember that while hypermobility can pose challenges, proper management, including physical therapy, can improve joint stability, reduce pain, and enhance overall well-being.

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How Physical Therapy Can Help with Hypermobility

Complementing Medical Treatment

  • Holistic Approach: PT is not a replacement for medication but an integral part of holistic care.
  • Collaboration: Physical therapists work closely with rheumatologists and other healthcare providers to create a comprehensive treatment plan.

Remember that individualized treatment plans and consistent engagement in PT sessions contribute to better functional capacity and self-management for those with hypermobility. 
Goals of Physical Therapy for Hypermobility

Physical therapy (PT) can be a valuable ally for individuals dealing with hypermobility:

Pain Management

  • Targeting Joint Pain: PT techniques focus on alleviating joint pain and associated soft tissue discomfort.
  • Customized Exercises: Therapists design personalized exercise programs to improve joint stability.

Improving Mobility and Joint Control

  • Range-of-Motion Exercises: PT helps maintain flexibility without compromising stability.
  • Strengthening Weak Muscles: Building strength around hypermobile joints enhances overall joint control.

Posture and Body Mechanics

  • Correcting Abnormal Biomechanics: Therapists address improper movement patterns to prevent strain.
  • Educating Patients: Learning optimal posture during daily activities minimizes stress on joints.

Balance and Coordination

  • Enhancing Proprioception: Exercises improve awareness of joint position, reducing the risk of falls.

Psychosocial Support

  • Addressing Emotional Well-Being: Coping with chronic pain can be emotionally challenging.
  • Coping Strategies: PT sessions guide managing both physical and emotional aspects.

Pain Relief and Education

  • Understanding Pain Sources: Clarify that pain arises from musculoskeletal insufficiencies, not inflammatory arthritis.
  • Empowering Patients: Encourage self-management with minimal reliance on medication.
  • Involving Family and Professionals: Engage family members, teachers, and coaches in the management plan.

Remember that consistent engagement in PT sessions, along with lifestyle modifications, contributes to better joint stability and overall function for those with hypermobility.

What are some exercises that can help with hypermobility?

Hypermobility requires a delicate balance between maintaining joint flexibility and enhancing stability. Here are some exercises that can assist individuals with hypermobility:

Strengthening Exercises

  1. Isometric Contractions: These involve holding a muscle in a static position without joint movement. For example:
    1. Quad Sets: Sit with your legs extended. Tighten your thigh muscles and press the back of your knee into the floor. Hold for 5-10 seconds.
    1. Glute Squeezes: While sitting or lying down, squeeze your buttocks together and hold for 5-10 seconds.
  2. Resistance Training: Use resistance bands or light weights to strengthen muscles around hypermobile joints. Focus on controlled movements.

Joint Stabilization

  1. Proprioceptive Exercises: These enhance joint awareness and control. Examples include:
    1. Single-Leg Balance: Stand on one leg, maintaining balance. Progress by closing your eyes or standing on an unstable surface.
    1. Bosu Ball Exercises: Use a Bosu ball (half stability ball) for balance training.
  2. Pilates: Pilates emphasizes core stability and controlled movements.

Range-of-Motion Maintenance

  • Gentle Stretching: Focus on maintaining joint flexibility without overstretching.
  • Yoga: Choose gentle yoga poses that promote flexibility and mindfulness.

Posture Awareness

  • Scapular Retraction: Sit or stand tall. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for a few seconds.
  • Chin Tucks: Gently tuck your chin toward your chest to improve neck posture.

Cardiovascular Exercise

  • Low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, or using an elliptical machine are beneficial.
  • Avoid high-impact exercises that strain joints.

Breathing and Relaxation Techniques

  • Deep breathing helps reduce muscle tension and promotes relaxation.
  • Mindfulness practices can alleviate stress-related symptoms.

Remember to consult a physical therapist or exercise specialist who understands hypermobility. They can create a personalized exercise program that balances strength, stability, and flexibility. 🌟

How do you stabilize hypermobile joints?

To stabilize hypermobile joints, focus on:

  • Muscle Strengthening: Strengthen the muscles around the joint to provide better support.
  • Proprioceptive Exercises: Enhance joint awareness and control.
  • Postural Correction: Maintain proper alignment to prevent strain.
  • Avoid Overstretching: Balance flexibility with stability.
  • Consult a Physical Therapist: They can guide you with specific exercises and techniques.

What is the best therapy for hypermobility?

Physical therapy (PT) is considered one of the best approaches for managing hypermobility

Does exercise help joint hypermobility?

Exercise plays a crucial role in managing joint hypermobility. 

Conclusion

Physical therapy offers personalized strategies to address pain, enhance joint control, and improve overall function. Each session is tailored to your unique needs. By strengthening weak muscles and promoting optimal biomechanics, PT helps stabilize hypermobile joints. It’s like adding support beams to a delicate structure.

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I am a highly skilled and experienced content writer with a Doctorate in Therapy degree. With a deep understanding of the human body and a passion for health and wellness. I combines my clinical expertise and writing skills to create valuable and engaging content.

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