People with hypermobile joints lack strength and stability compared with people with non-hypermobile joints.
Increased ROM and lack of support mean people can bend and twist joints more than usual, putting them at risk of injury or partial and full dislocation.
Symptoms can include:
- Slow Injury recovery
- Poor posture
- Poor proprioception
- Joint stiffness
- Pain (this can be acute and specific, or chronic and widespread)
- Clicking in the joints
- Thin and/or stretchy skin
- Digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and constipation
Slow Injury recovery – Injury recovery can be slower for people with joint hypermobility. In some cases, the injury may not fully recover due to repeated microtrauma. This means the person is at risk of the injury happening again.
Poor posture – Muscles tire more easily in hypermobile joints as they have to work harder to support the joint. Hypermobile people often dislike sustained postures and have poor postural alignment as they tend to rest at the end of the joint range. Although they will be able to adopt a good standing or sitting position at first, they will not be able to hold it for long.
Poor proprioception – Poor proprioception can be considered both a cause and symptom of joint hypermobility. Proprioceptive sense refers to the sensory input and feedback that tells us about movement and body position. Its receptors are located within our muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and connective tissues.
If people aren’t certain where their joint is within a space, it may lead to them overstretching. Equally, if people have overstretched structures within a joint, it can then lead to poor proprioception.
Joint stiffness – People may suffer from joint stiffness – which may seem unusual, given the increased range of movement in joint hypermobility. However, it’s often subjective and therefore stiff compared with someone’s ‘normal’ feeling. I feel stiff a lot.
Stiffness may be caused by a tight muscle or a muscle spasm – possibly due to overusing global muscles or by a build-up of fluid in the joint as it tries to repair the damage.
Bracing – ‘Bracing’ is a term given to breath-holding. It is a common symptom of joint hypermobility where people try to use breathing to help stabilise themselves and produce more power
Varying symptoms – For people who are symptomatic, the type and severity of the symptoms can vary from person to person – even from day to day for the same person.
Many people with joint hypermobility do not experience any of the symptoms we have mentioned here. If symptoms are present alongside joint hypermobility then it is known as Joint Hypermobility Syndrome.