If you have hypermobile joints, you may be able to move your body in ways that others simply cannot. You may have more flexibility in your fingers, wrists, elbows or shoulders, and while that might sound like a good thing, this hypermobility can also cause problems for your body. The reason you’re able to go beyond a normal range of motion is actually caused by a condition that leads to persistently loose supportive ligaments. These loose ligaments allow you to be more flexible, but it also means that the joint isn’t as stable as it should be, and unstable joints can cause plenty of problems. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at how a physical therapist can help you find relief from discomfort caused by hypermobile joints.
Understanding Hypermobile Joints
Some hypermobility is normal in our joints when we’re younger and our bodies are developing. In fact, you may notice that many children tend to be quite flexible in their fingers, wrists or shoulders, and that’s pretty common. However, as we get older these ligaments tend to lose some of that laxity in order to help provide some extra stability to the joints. This doesn’t happen for a small percentage of people, which means their joints can shift or move more than normal.
When your joints are unstable, it can lead to a number of different symptoms ranging from mild or severe in nature. For mild cases, patients may only feel minimal discomfort and a sensation of looseness in their joints. More serious cases can lead to increasing pain, an increased risk of joint dislocations and fractures, and a decrease in proprioception, which is defined as your brain’s ability to recognize where your body is located in relation to space. This can lead to balance problems or coordination issues.
If you are experiencing any of those symptoms, or you suspect that your discomfort may stem from some hypermobility in your joints, reach out to your primary care physician or go straight to a physical therapist. By using some simple manipulation exercises and talking to you about your symptoms, a physical therapist can often provide a diagnosis and help develop a treatment plan all in one session, helping to cut out additional costs for referrals.
How Physical Therapy Helps Hypermobile Joints
Your physical therapist can play a crucial role in helping to limit the joint discomfort you are experiencing in your hypermobile joints. The overall goal will be to help stabilize the affected joints so that they become less mobile and provide more support for the body. Your physical therapy will do this through exercises that work to:
- Strengthen Muscles – Ligaments and muscles provide support to your joints, so if your ligaments are loose, developing your muscles can help to provide some extra joint stability.
- Proprioception Improvements – A physical therapist can also develop some exercises that work to improve how your brain recognizes where your body is located in relation to space.
- Balance Training – Hypermobility can also affect the knees and ankle joints, which can lead to balance problems. We can help improve your balance and reduce your risk of falls or ankle sprains.
- Bracing – Our therapists are also trained in a variety of different bracing and taping techniques that can help provide additional support to loose joints.
- Manual Therapy – Manual movement therapy performed by a skilled physical therapist can help to stimulate nerves in the affected joints and reduce pain.
So if you are plagued by hypermobile joint discomfort, reach out to a physical therapy team and quickly develop a PT routine that can provide additional support to your joints and reduce painful symptoms. To get started on your journey to pain-free joints, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.