Hypermobile Joints And Back Pain – How Brighton Chiropractors Can Help

Image Attribution: By MissLunaRose12 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=89481571

Back pain is commonly caused by joint stiffness but sometimes too much movement can become a problem.

We usually think of being very flexible as a great thing. Athletes, yoga practitioners and children are so lithe and limber that we tend to envy them. But when does joint flexibility become hypermobility? Read on to find out more about this syndrome, why it can become a problem and whether there’s anything our physiotherapists and chiropractors can do to help you.

Hypermobile joints can stretch further than the average. It’s fairly common to have some hypermobility in some joints and about one in ten of us experience this with no associated pain or problems. It’s sometimes called ‘loose or lax ligaments’, and is often accompanied by poor muscle tone. Pregnant women temporarily have ‘lax ligaments’ due to changes caused by the hormone Relaxin which relaxes the muscles, joints and ligaments to help the body stretch. That’s why pregnancy can make walking and other movements slow and painful.

Hypermobility syndrome is different.

It’s thought to be a genetic condition, affecting connective tissue and collagen. It is a problem because the laxity of multiple muscles and joints causes pain, dislocations and subluxations (partial displacement) of joints. There may be frequent small injuries at the same site, causing micro-tears which never get the chance to heal. If this happens in the spine it can cause back pain.

The Beighton test, which checks for hypermobility syndrome, looks at how flexible the joints of the thumb, elbows, knees and little fingers are by examining the range of movement. For example, a hypermobile thumb will comfortably stretch to touch the arm. As children, hypermobile individuals might often have suffered from dislocated shoulders or kneecaps. A high score on the Beighton scale will lead to a diagnosis of hypermobility, but there are various conditions which can contribute to or coexist with hypermobile joints. It’s not well understood why this symptom accompanies so many other medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, autonomic dysfunction or even autism. You might also suffer from fragile skin, bruise easily or experience pelvic floor and bladder issues.

How to manage your Hypermobility

Although there’s no cure for hypermobility, you can certainly manage it by strengthening your muscles and protecting your joints. Our physiotherapists here at Sundial can recommend a personal exercise plan to tone muscles in order to support hypermobile joints. Strengthening core and back muscles is particularly important.

Sundial chiropractors use techniques of back care which ensure that mobilisation is done to the correct degree, using our low-force adjusting instruments which precisely sense the optimum adjustment needed for fragile connective tissues.

  • Low impact exercise is best for hypermobile joints, so avoid contact sports or extreme exercises involving twisting, jumping, running. However, it’s worth remembering that ‘any movement which is completed with control can be a form of exercise’* so not just Pilates and Qi Gong classes but movement around the home, such as routine housework, can be useful in toning muscles.
  • Sitting-down exercises can include a ‘wobble cushion’ (we sell these in the clinic), chair dancing or sitting on a gym ball. These help to strengthen the core (read more about this here: https://sundialclinics.co.uk/conditions/backpain/what-exactly-is-your-core-and-should-you-strengthen-it/).
  • Many other exercise options are recommended by hypermobility sufferers, such as recumbent cycling, ‘walking netball’ (or other slowed-down sports), archery and swimming pool gym.
  • Little and often is the key!

 

So come and see us for professional treatment and advice to help you live your best life. Book here for an appointment with our physiotherapists or chiropractors.

*https://www.hypermobility.org/exercise
Chronic Low Back Pain Occurring in Association With Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – PMC