What is joint hypermobility?
Joint hypermobility is a condition where joints can move easily beyond the normal range of movement. It’s also referred to as being ‘double jointed’ or having ‘loose joints’. The hypermobility may be present in any of the joints in the body- the most commonly affected joints are the knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers.
Joint hypermobility is believed to be caused by a collagen deficiency, which makes ligaments and soft tissue too lax to properly support joints.
It’s a common condition, especially in childhood. Most people with hypermobile joints have no other symptoms and their suppleness and flexibility can be used as an advantage- particularly in sports like gymnastics. However, some people also suffer from the following symptoms:
- Paint and stiffness in the joints
- Dislocated joints (where the joint comes out of its correct position)
- Recurrent sprains and strains
- Poor balance or coordination
- Digestive problems including IBS
- Thin or stretchy skin
- Early-onset osteoarthritis
- A tendency to bruise easily
- Flat feet
- Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) jaw disorders
Diagnosis of joint hypermobility
I was diagnosed with joint hypermobility after going for a bike fit a few years ago. The physio noted that I am incredibly flexible and was amazed by the range of movement in my joints. The Beighton Score is used as a quick test to assess the range of movement in some of the joints. It’s calculated as follows:
- One point if while standing forward bending you can place palms on the ground with legs straight
- 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 your Beighton score is four or more, it is likely that you have joint hypermobility. Except for touching my thumbs to my forearms, I’m able to hyperextend my joints in all of these ways. I’ve always been very bendy, but I didn’t realise there was a name for the condition or how my other symptoms are connected.
Caring for joint hypermobility
Fortunately, my daily life isn’t impacted by my hypermobility, however I do suffer from painful, stiff joints. Because the joints are capable of excessive movement, they are susceptible to injury. The surrounding muscles need to work harder to stabilise the joint, particularly during exercise. Personally, I am prone to rolling my ankles as they are not strong enough to support me whilst I’m running.
I also have a poor sense of proprioception, which is the ability to sense how far I’m stretching. I have a tendency to overstretch when practising yoga, so I have to be mindful of my movements to avoid injury.
Here’s how I care for my hypermobile joints:
- Using special insoles (orthotics) to support the arches of my feet
- Strength and conditioning exercises to improve stability and control
- Low-impact training like cycling and swimming to minimize the impact on my joints
- Using ice and heat to soothe sore joints
- Listen to my body and avoid hyperextending and overstretching
- Being aware of my posture and not standing with knees hyperextended
Taking a supplement can also help relieve joint pain and support normal mobility and flexibility. I’ve recently been taking Flexiqule which is a botanical food supplement based on 100% natural active ingredients. It contains Boswellia to maintain healthy joint function and Ginger to manage inflammatory response. I prefer to take natural rather than Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) where possible.
This post is sponsored by AlchemLife.
Are you very flexible? Do you take any supplements for joint health?