Joint hypermobility resources

Joint hypermobility is a commonly encountered but often poorly understood condition in both children and adults. 

Focus on hypermobility copy.jpgJoint hypermobility changes the biomechanics of the trunk and limbs because of the combination of poor joint stability along with  tightness of certain muscles. Understanding this combination allows physical therapists to plan intervention programs that carefully  target tight structures, build muscle strength and improve coordination to provide the stability needed for good function. 

Here you will find a collection of resources, some written for parents and others for therapists describing the impact of joint hypermobility on function and activity levels, and highlighting the importance of early intervention to prevent the  later development of inactivity, chronic pain, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. 


The term generalized joint hypermobility (GJH) is used when a person has several joints that are more flexible than usual. This happens when the connective tissue which makes up the joint structures (capsule and ligaments) is more compliant (more easily stretched) than usual.

Many children with hypermobile joints have movement difficulties. Why is this and what can be done to overcome these difficulties?

Infants with joint hypermobility have joints that are able to bend further than usual and a trunk and limbs that appear to be floppy and weak. 

The increased range of  movement at the joints (sometimes called joint laxity or being double jointed) is due to differences in the connective tissue that forms the joint capsule and ligaments.

 

Children with generalised joint hypermobility often have loose joints but some tight muscles. The muscle tightness causes abnormal stresses in the joints and can lead to pain and discomfort. 

5 Graded exercises 15 minutes a day. 4 weeks

Research has shown that strengthening the leg muscles in children with joint hypermobility not only reduces the pain experienced by children, but also reduces the risk of injury to the joints and prevents subluxation of joints. 

A program of exercises to improve flexibility and strengthen the leg muscles in children  who do not like walking distances and complain of pain in the legs. 

Generalized joint hypermobility is now increasingly recognized as an underlying or contributing factor in movement difficulties experienced by children, both because of the impact of increased compliance in the connective tissue structures of the body but also because it is closely associated with a cautious temperament (behavioral inhibition) and related anxiety. 

Being able to stand on one leg is one of those skills  that children really value. If approached in a way that allows for success and a way to measure progress most children are willing to spend time practicing to improve their level of skill.

Many children with joint hypermobility (low muscle tone) have problems with flat feet. Flat feet are associated with leg muscle tightness, weakness, balance problems and rotational malalignment of the leg. 

Some children with flat feet also experience pain with walking distances and running.

Drawing and handwriting involves coordination of shoulder and elbow movements to move the hands across the page. Children with movement difficulties (low muscle tone, joint hypermobility, DCD, autism) often lack shoulder strength, flexibility and coordination needed for effective control of shoulder movements needed for drawing and handwriting. 

hypermobile child with poor standing posture

Children with movement difficulties (joint hypermobility, low muscle tone, ASD and developmental coordination disorder often have weak core muscle strength and stability, and poorly developed postural response mechanisms. This affects their posture in sitting and standing, as well as their gross motor skills.