Hypermobility and Pain Management

Physical Therapy


Here is a comprehensive guide on how to manage pain and injury when you have hypermobility.

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Living with hypermobility can be a challenge. On one hand, the increased flexibility can enhance your athletic abilities and allow you to perform impressive feats of movement. On the other hand, hypermobility can lead to frequent pain, injury, and joint instability. As a physical therapist, I’ve worked with many individuals with hypermobility, helping them manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to manage pain and injury when you have hypermobility.

Understanding Hypermobility

Hypermobility refers to excessive joint mobility. This condition can be generalized, affecting multiple joints, or localized to specific joints. For some, it is a benign condition with little impact on daily life, while for others, it can be associated with pain and a variety of musculoskeletal issues. Hypermobility can also be a part of conditions like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), which requires more specialized management.

Common Challenges with Hypermobility

  1. Joint Pain and Instability: Hypermobility can lead to chronic pain and instability.
  2. Frequent Injuries: Overstretched ligaments and tendons can result in sprains, strains, and dislocations.
  3. Muscle Weakness: The muscles around hypermobile joints may become weak or overworked as they attempt to stabilize the joints.
  4. Fatigue: Maintaining joint stability can be tiring, leading to generalized fatigue.

Hypermobility and Pain Management

1. Strengthening Exercises

Building muscle strength is crucial for creating dynamic stability around your joints. Focus on exercises that target the muscles surrounding your joints, such as:

  • Core Strengthening: A strong core provides a stable foundation for your entire body.
  • Strength Training: Use weights or resistance bands to strengthen muscles around hypermobile joints. Ensure proper form to avoid overextending.
  • Functional Training: Engage in exercises that mimic everyday activities to enhance joint stability and coordination.

2. Stabilization Techniques

Learning to control and stabilize your joints during movement can reduce the risk of injury.

  • Proprioception Exercises: Improve your body awareness of joint position.
  • Controlled Movements: Focus on slow, controlled movements during exercise to enhance joint stability and muscle activation.

3. Flexibility

While you may naturally be more flexible, you may still feel tight. Foam rolling, and self-massage techniques (in combination with strength training) may be more helpful for managing muscular pain than stretching.

4. Pain Management Techniques

Managing pain effectively is crucial for maintaining an active lifestyle.

  • Manual Therapy: Techniques like massage, and myofascial release can help alleviate pain and improve mobility.
  • Strength Training: Strength training is a great long-term pain management plan.
  • Cardiovascular training: Cardio is also a great long-term pain management plan.

5. Activity Modification

Adapting your activities can help you stay active without exacerbating pain or risking injury.

  • Exercise: Through trial and error, you will find which type of exercise feels best for your body. It is important to find what works best for your body for the long term.
  • Ergonomic Adjustments: Make ergonomic adjustments to your workspace or daily routines to reduce joint strain.

Working with a Physical Therapist

A physical therapist can provide personalized guidance and support for clients with hypermobility and teach them pain management techniques. Together, you can develop a tailored exercise program, learn proper techniques, and receive manual therapy to address pain and improve function. Regular follow-ups can help adjust your plan as needed and ensure you are making progress.

Living Well with Hypermobility

While hypermobility presents unique challenges, with the right strategies and support, you can manage pain, prevent injury, and lead an active, fulfilling life. You can take control of your health and well-being by strengthening your body, and adopting effective pain management techniques.

Remember, every individual is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Listen to your body, seek professional guidance, and be proactive in your approach to managing hypermobility. Stay active, stay informed, and take care of your body.

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