I would definitely say that at least ten percent of my clients suffer from the consequences of hypermobility. Seven of those due to body type, and three percent because they were pregnant or are currently.
The definition is an increased range of motion (ROM) at a joint. This can occur in one spot or be an overall condition. Hypermobility can be graded by utilizing a point system that measures the flexibility of specific joints called The Brighton Scale- to determine the extent of their Hypermobility. I use it when I suspect someone’s discomfort or injury may be due to this condition.
They may be further at risk for musculoskeletal symptoms and injuries such as sprains, tendinitis, and nerve entrapments (like carpal tunnel syndrome). Of these approximately five percent of these present with Hypermobility Syndrome- muscle and joint pain, tendonitis, hyperextensible skin, and structural heart problems. Women and children tend to be more susceptible than men, especially when pregnant. This is due to the fact that a hormone named relaxin is released during pregnancy to allow the joints and ligaments to help with the labour and delivery of the child. This hypermobility remains noticeable in the pelvis, ankle and feet.
Also certain other conditions predispose people to Hypermobility. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA- an autoimmune disorder that attacks the joints causing inflammation and breakdown of connective tissues) results in Hypermobility of the affected joints. Ehlers-Danolos Syndromes is an inherited disorder that are hallmarked by overall excessive joint hypermobility often to the point of dislocations. Those that have Marfans syndrome-generally unusually tall and thin body types-where elastin (the protein that is found in connective tissue)- is fragmented, characterized by symptoms ranging from eye and to heart problems.
Other causes of hypermobility would be due to occupation or activity- such as an acrobatics or gymnast, Compensation due to lack of motion elsewhere in the body, or trauma to a joint- such as an ankle sprain. This can result in sore and tight muscles as they rally to hold the joint together in an attempt to compensate for the lack of stability formerly provided by the ligaments that have overstretched. The joint capsule itself can become overstretched. This is why strengthening and always maintaining that muscle strength becomes important, and where I evaluate the clients’ relative strength and provide appropriate exercise.
If you suspect you suffer from this condition, be it in your shoulders or all over, feel free to contact me at Ultimate Sports Therapy for your free initial assessment as how I can help you with your pain today!
Jennifer J. Lamore, BAA, RMT
Registered Massage Therapist Toronto & Mississauga, Ontario