Have you ever been able to impress friends by contorting your body into bizarre shapes, bending back fingers, doing the splits or popping a joint out on que?
If so this one’s for you…
by Natasha Harris – Chiropractor
So, I may be Hypermobile – what’s the problem?
There are a huge range of problems associated with hypermobility – from a slightly unstable joint (eg recurring shoulder dislocations) to severe collagen disorders (Ehlos-Danlos syndrome).
Each of them bring their own problems and quirks, and all need careful attention in order to avoid future problems.
How can I tell if I might be hyper-mobile?
The Beighton test is a useful indicator of widespread hypermobility and you can test yourself at home, have a go…..
- One point if while bending forward (legs straight and feet together) you can place both palms on the ground
- One point for each elbow that bends backwards
- One point for each knee that bends backwards
- One point for each thumb that touches the forearm when bent backwards
- One point for each little finger that bends backwards beyond 90 degrees.
If you have scored 5 or more out of 9 there is a chance you have some level of hypermobility.
True hypermobility syndrome also comes with a range of other symptoms such as core weakness, easy bruising, blackouts, abdominal or chest pains and fatigue, but this test gives an indication of whether may you have the condition.
What can we do to help those with Hypermobility?
Hypermobility is something we see regularly in the clinic and it does tend to respond really well to manipulation. This however is only a short term fix!
A person with hypermobility can very easily become reliant on manipulation for a quick fix but the effects tend not to last indefinitely. When your joints have failed you stability wise, you have to take control and make your muscles do the job for you.
My personal experience – living with Hypermobility
From personal experience (scoring 5 out of 9 on this test), I have experienced the troubles that come with being able to perform these party tricks.
Luckily for me, my choice of career meant that I was well-placed to learn to manage the effects that hypermobility has on a person.
The difference that the correct management of hypermobility can make, is remarkable.
What were my symptoms?
I was a keen ballet dancer until the age of 18, and never had any problems with movements that needed flexibility. However, when it came to pointe work and things that required any ankle stability, I always struggled. As a result, I sprained my ankles frequently. Since my early teens I also suffered with frequent headaches and migraines.
When I first started University, I was the person that nobody wanted to be paired with in exams – there was far too much movement in my joints, making it difficult for my fellow students to impress the tutors with their adjustment technique when practising on me.
How do I manage my condition?
Once at college, I was quickly diagnosed with Hypermobility and my approach to care changed. Instead of getting regular adjustments, which gave me relief short-term, I focused on more limited manipulation, with a greater emphasis on strengthening the weaker joints through rehabilitation.
I was lucky enough to be coached through new exercises and movement patterns by another student that had been a Sports Therapist before re-training in Chiropractic. I became his pet-project – I am now his wife – and he and I both work together at Riviera Wellbeing.
Though, it is a longer road to symptomatic relief, it is a far more sustainable path for the hypermobile patient – so the effort put in, is really worth it.
Personally, I am now stronger and more stable in my core, which allows me to continue doing this job as well as exercising regularly and being active on the family farm.
I now have a few migraines a year rather than weekly, and can’t remember the last time I sprained an ankle!
Here at Riviera Wellbeing Paul and Natasha run a 6 week rehab course on a Wednesday evening. This is a brilliant class for those with hypermobility issues as well as those with stubborn recurring musculoskeletal conditions or chronic pain.