Hypermobility is a symptom rather than a diagnosis, and it can be completely benign or associated with another condition.

Hypermobility and the Beighton Scale

What is Hypermobility?

The term literally means “more mobile”

There are a few tools we can use to identify whether or not someone is hypermobile. One of those is the Beighton Scale. This is a quick test of the mobility of 9 joints (as illustrated above):

1 and 2: fingers
3 and 4: thumbs and wrists
5 and 6: elbows
7: lower back
8 and 9: knees

Your osteopath will look at the range you’re able to achieve with each joint and give a point for any joint that moves further than expected. You will then have a score that gives a very rough idea of how hypermobile your joints are in general.

You might have hypermobile joints, but not fit the criteria for these methods. It’s still useful information- perhaps you have areas of hypermobility following an old injury or historic training. The knowledge that they’re there will influence the treatment plan, but you might not be labelled as hypermobile. Similarly, you might be generally very mobile, but not in the areas tested by the Beighton Scale. Again, the information is still important and it may still be noteworthy in your clinic notes and any referrals that might be appropriate.

Association with Other Conditions

A number of hereditary connective tissue disorders are associated with excessive mobility. Some of these conditions are quite rare, and it may be the mobility that leads to investigations to identify the disorder. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Marfan’s Syndrome may be first identified by their features of hypermobile joints. Downs Syndrome can also cause increased mobility, although this is rarely missed at birth (or before).

Painful Effects of Hypermobility

Severe cases can lead to recurrent dislocations. When an already lax ligament is strained by injury, it may not function as it needs to without surgery. However, we can help to strengthen surrounding soft tissues, and rehabilitate the injury where appropriate.

General hypermobility can cause local aches and pains, but may be easily managed by strengthening. Finding a routine that suits you is key. Your osteopath can work with you to trial a number of exercises and monitor your progress until we find what works for you.

During pregnancy, joints in the pelvis are meant to become more mobile. But for someone who already has more mobility than the average person, this can be excessive. You may be more likely to develop PGP or SPD as a result. The tailbone may also be more prone to irritation through the process of pregnancy or birth. If you do begin to feel pelvic joint pain at any point in pregnancy, aim to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Osteopathy for Management

One of the best things you can do to support a hypermobile joint is to strengthen the muscles around it. Your osteopath can both identify the hypermobile joints, and develop a management plan for you, including exercises. We can also look elsewhere to see if any other areas in the body are underworking, placing further strain on the affected joints. Treatment for these asymptomatic joints might help to ease your initial discomfort.

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