Hypermobility and Chronic Pain

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Hypermobility is a condition characterized by excessive joint flexibility, often accompanied by chronic pain and musculoskeletal issues. As a physical therapist, I have encountered many individuals struggling with the challenges of hypermobility and chronic pain. In this blog, we’ll explore the relationship between hypermobility and chronic pain from a physical therapist’s perspective, discussing the impact on daily life, common symptoms, and strategies for managing and improving outcomes for those living with these conditions.

Understanding Hypermobility and Chronic Pain

Hypermobility refers to mobility in one or more joints beyond what is considered normal for an individual. While some people with hypermobility may not experience any adverse effects, others may develop chronic pain and instability due to lax ligaments and connective tissue. Chronic pain associated with hypermobility can manifest in various forms, including joint pain, muscle soreness, and generalized discomfort. The underlying mechanisms contributing to chronic pain in hypermobile individuals can be multifaceted, involving factors such as joint instability, inflammation, and altered biomechanics.

Common Symptoms

Individuals with hypermobility and chronic pain may face a myriad of symptoms and challenges that impact their daily lives. These may include:

  • Joint Instability: Loose ligaments and hypermobile joints can lead to instability, increasing the risk of subluxations, dislocations, and recurrent injuries.
  • Musculoskeletal Pain: Chronic pain, often described as dull, achy, or throbbing, can affect multiple joints and muscles, impacting mobility and functional activities.
  • Fatigue: Dealing with chronic pain and physical limitations can be exhausting, leading to fatigue and decreased energy levels.
  • Reduced Work/Social Time: Persistent pain and mobility restrictions can interfere with work, social activities, and leisure pursuits.
  • Psychological Impact: Living with chronic pain can take a toll on mental health, contributing to anxiety, depression, and feelings of frustration or helplessness.

Role of Physical Therapy

Physical therapy plays a pivotal role in managing hypermobility and chronic pain, focusing on improving strength, stability, and functional mobility while minimizing pain and preventing injuries. A comprehensive physical therapy program may include:

  • Strength and Stability Training: Targeted exercises to strengthen muscles around hypermobile joints can enhance stability, reduce pain, and improve joint control.
  • Joint Protection Strategies: Education on proper body mechanics, ergonomic principles, and joint protection techniques can help individuals with hypermobility manage pain and prevent injury during daily activities.
  • Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques such as joint mobilization, soft tissue mobilization, and myofascial release can help alleviate pain, and address tissue restrictions.
  • Proprioception: It is very important to learn where your body is in space to decrease the risk of recurrent injuries.

Hypermobility and chronic pain pose significant challenges that require a comprehensive and individualized approach to management and care. As a physical therapist who lives with hypermobility, I am committed to helping individuals with these conditions improve their quality of life, regain function, and achieve their goals through personalized rehabilitation programs and compassionate support. By empowering patients with education, therapeutic interventions, and ongoing guidance, we can navigate the complexities of hypermobility and chronic pain together, fostering resilience and promoting holistic well-being.

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