Providing high quality and thorough chiropractic care to people of all ages.
Hypermobility requires a much different approach than what is needed for the problems most people see Chiropractors for. Quite often, people describe being hypermobile in some joints, and stiff in others. Other people are so hypermobile that they lack enough muscle tone to effectively support their joints which can lead to pain. I want to discuss a few different kinds of hypermobility and how Chiropractors commonly manage them.
Hypermobility is usually described as a condition in which one’s joints are flexible beyond what would be considered typical. This is commonly referred to as being ‘double-jointed’, however it is a misconception that the flexibility is due to extra joints. The most common joints affected by hypermobility are the knees, hips, fingers and elbows. People who experience hypermobility can often bend their fingers backwards at the middle joint, hyperextend their elbows so they are bending backwards to a small degree, or notice that when they lock their knees that their knees go beyond being straight and are bent slightly the wrong way.
Hypermobility is inherited from a person’s parents. It is currently unclear as to the exact genes which cause hypermobility, however it is thought that the genes which are responsible for the production of collagen are responsible. Hypermobility happens when the ligaments which hold your joints together are more lax than normal, as in they are overly flexible and allow for a greater than average range of motion. This gives you the ability to move your joints back and forth much more than the average person.
Chiropractic may be a great way to manage the problems associated with hypermobility, however the increased movement in the affected joints must be taken into consideration. Most of the time, Chiropractic involves finding and adjusting joints that aren’t moving properly or are painful. These joints still exist in people with hypermobility, however there will also be joints which move beyond their normal range of motion. This means your Chiropractor will need to be specific about which joints to adjust and which areas to strengthen instead with exercise recommendations.
Chiropractors are also extensively trained in modalities other than manual adjustments. These include soft tissue therapies, physiological therapeutics, exercises and activity modifications. Often, not all of these modalities will be required for the effective management of hypermobility, however a wide range of options are available depending on the individual.
There is no evidence to suggest that Chiropractic adjustments can change a hypermobile joint into one with a normal, more limited range of motion. In saying this, often the actual extra movement in joints associated with hypermobility isn’t the problem. More often, the painful problems which can arise for someone with hypermobility are due to posture, lack of muscle tone, poor movement patterns and aggravating activities. These are all problems which Chiropractors see all the time.
A more helpful question to ask might be:
“What problems are my hypermobile joints causing, and how are they impacting my life?”
This way, we will be able to set clear goals and outcome measures in order to help you get the best out of your care.
To summarise, hypermobility can require a different approach to care than many common conditions, however it is important to determine why your hypermobility is a problem. A good way to go about this is to write down a list of questions, points or key features about the way hypermobility is affecting you, and bring it into your initial consultation with one of our Chiropractors. To find out more about hypermobility or if you are unsure what the best course of action is, feel free to contact us.
By Dr. Beau Kenihan (Chiropractor)