What is Hypermobility?

Joint hypermobility is what some people refer to as having “loose joints” or being “double-jointed”. Did you know that general aches and pains in the feet and body may be associated with hypermobility?

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Overview

Hypermobility refers to the ability of a joint to move beyond its normal range of motion. Individuals with hypermobility have joints that can stretch or bend further than what is considered typical for their age, gender, and population. This increased flexibility is often due to the laxity of ligaments and tendons that support the joints.

Hypermobility can manifest in various forms and may be classified into different types based on the affected joints or underlying conditions

  • Generalised Hypermobility affects multiple joints, bones and soft tissues throughout the body. This may be accompanied by musculoskeletal symptoms, such as arthritis, muscle pain, or internal disruption to the joints (internal derangement). More severe forms of this hypermobility syndrome are associated with underlying conditions, like Marfan Syndrome, Ehrler-Danos Syndrome, and Muscular Dystrophy.
  • Joint Hypermobility Syndrome refers to hypermobility localised to a specific joint or a small group of joints.

Generalised hypermobility tends to be more prevalent in women and can run in families. Studies have shown increased rates of this condition in certain populations, including Asians, which may be linked to specific genetic variations in the Tenascin-X gene.

Potential implications of Hypermobility

  • Increased risk of injury due to susceptibility to sprains, strains and dislocations
  • Joint instability
  • Muscle fatigue and pain

Diagnosis

Individuals can assess hypermobility at home using the "Beighton scoring system," which evaluates the flexibility of specific joints. Follow these steps for self-assessment:

  1. Stand with your knees straight, bend at the waist, and put your palms flat on the floor.
  2. Check each elbow to see if you can bend it beyond 180 degrees.
  3. Examine each knee to determine if you can bend it beyond 180 degrees.
  4. Assess each thumb to see if you can touch it to your forearm when bent backward.
  5. Evaluate each little finger to determine if you can bend it backward more than 90 degrees.

Add on point for each of the above actions you can perform. The total will be your Beighton score, with a maximum of 9 points. Those with a score of 6 or more may have joint laxity or hypermobility. Regular self-assessment using this system can help individuals monitor their joint flexibility and be aware of potential hypermobility issues.

How is Hypermobility managed?

Not everyone with hypermobility requires therapy. If you do not experience any symptoms or hindrance to your lifestyle, there is no need for therapy or intervention. While some hypermobile individuals may excel in activities like gymnastics and dance, caution is necessary to prevent overextension and injuries.

However, for those experiencing symptoms or hoping to improve their biomechanics, seeking intervention is advisable. While hypermobility does not necessarily require therapy for everyone, some individuals may be more prone to joint injuries, instability, and musculoskeletal problems.

For some, hypermobility can lead to pain or discomfort, potentially leading to conditions such as:

  • Scoliosis
  • Malalignment syndrome
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction
  • Recurrent sprains and dislocations
  • Chronic pain syndrome

Podiatrists can also help individuals with hypermobility to improve joint stability. Through the use of customised orthotic devices, such as ankle-foot orthotics or knee braces, podiatrists can effectively correct the overall movement patterns of the body, reducing the occurrences of ankle sprains and lower limb pain.

Moreover, the use of orthotics lowers the likelihood of developing tendinopathies and arthritis associated with hypermobility. The tailored approach provided by podiatrists addresses specific concerns related to hypermobility and contributes to improved overall joint function and comfort.

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Common Symptoms

Pain in the joints
Weak or ineffective muscles
Lack of coordination
Gait problems
Clicking joints
Back pain
Frequent ankle sprains and injuries
Trip and fall easily

How It Looks Like

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I came in for foot pain which lasted for about 2+ months. I was only managing with painkillers throughout this period till I decided to give a shot at East Coast Podiatry. My podiatrist, Ari, was very warm since the beginning and assessed my condition, afterwhich she was able to pinpoint the underlying cause of my pain. After a few sessions , I'm glad that the pain has been resolved. Another key highlight about Ari is that she assessed my condition and manage it for the long run also. Based on my condition, she planned out a 1 year program to help optimise my current condition (e.g. Customised insoles, regular reviews). Overall, Ari and the team have done a superb job in ensuring i get the best solution possible. I would strongly recommend East Coast Podiatry for those who have lower limb problems!

Muhammad Nabil
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An ankle specialist, such as a podiatrist, will be able to perform a thorough foot assessment using diagnostic tools, such as a musculoskeletal diagnostic ultrasound to determine the source of your ankle pain. If surgery is required, your podiatrist will refer you to a trusted foot and ankle doctor for surgical solutions.

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