Joint Hypermobility can be a normal variation of connective tissue make up. For others, it can be a symptom of an underlying connective tissue disorder or cause chronic musculoskeletal problems. Hypermobility is characterized by altered Collagen
structure. As collagen lines & supports many different systems of the body it can have wide ranging effects.
The ligaments of people with Joint Hypermobility are too stretchy. This means the joints move through greater ranges of motion than other people & the proprioceptive information received by the brain from the joints is altered. Hypermobile people are therefore at greater risk of injury, particularly when performing repetitive movements or using their joints at end range of motion.
It is a significant contributor to chronic musculoskeletal pain & has overlap with both Fibromyalgia & other chronic pain disorders. Research also suggests an association between Hypermobility & inflammatory arthritis such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. Altered proprioception from the joints (particularly weight bearing joints such as the feet), can lead to compensatory muscle activation patterns. These patterns cause abnormal strain on the musculoskeletal system & in children may result in recurrent injury or a reluctance to engage in physical activity due to reduced physical aptitude.
Successful long term management of Symptomatic Joint Hypermobility may involve the use of foot orthotics to correct the proprioceptive information & provide a stable base as well as appropriate, regular physical exercise. This helps build the muscle strength to stabilize the unstable joints. The joints of people with Hypermobility move too much in the side-to- side or ‘transverse’ plane & so swimming, cycling, cross training & rowing are particularly helpful due to their uniplanar or supported weight bearing characteristics.
Children with Joint Hypermobility may experience speech & language delays, gastrointestinal problems, handwriting & visual attention difficulties & are at an increased risk of suffering from anxiety. They may tire quicker than their peers due to their muscles exerting increased effort to move than people with stable joints.
Research has identified that posture, proprioception, education, strength and motor control are important components in achieving enhanced joint stability, as is physical activity and general fitness.
Common findings may include:
Joint pain, especially knees, hip & feet
Poor posture & biomechanics, especially
Joint and muscle aches that are worse at
History of ‘growing pains’
Clumsy/ awkward gait or running style
Clicking of joints
Pain or excessive fatigue after routine
sport or exercise
Susceptibility to injury
Poor fine motor skills and messy
Joints that lock or go out of place e.g
patella, shoulders, thumbs
Adoption of end range postures e.g.
Anterior knee pain & instability
Non-specific low back pain (NSLBP)
Joint effusions, especially knees
Chronic widespread pain
If you or your family have Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (pain associated with Hypermobile joints), Potter Podiatry recommend early assessment. As the connective tissue variance tends to run in families, it is often helpful for us to also screen siblings.
You can book your Paediatric Podiatry assessment here