Physical Therapy for Hypermobility and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
Joint hypermobility syndrome is a condition that causes the joints to easily move beyond the normal range expected for a certain joint. This is an inherited connective tissue disorder. It is commonly referred to as having “loose joints” or being “double-jointed”.
Signs of hypermobility are pain in the knees, fingers, hips, and elbows. There is also a higher tendency for joint dislocation and sprains. People with hypermobility can many times place the palms of their hands on the floor with their knees fully extended. With hyperextension of the knee or elbow beyond 10 degrees, many have the ability to touch the thumb to the forearm. Some people with hypermobility could have a rare and inherited condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is characterized by weakness of the connective tissues in the body.
EDS can also affect the heart, skin, ligaments, tendons, and muscles, thus causing joint pain. Looseness of the joints can result in sprains, dislocations, or spinal problems. Many people have back pain, SI joint dysfunction, and TMJ/TMD issues. These issues may also lead to decreased balance.
While there is no cure for hypermobility syndrome or EDS, improving muscle strength and fitness to protect the joints is essential in managing the condition and preventing dislocations. Physical therapy is the best at treating these issues.
Dry needling can be very efficient in reducing muscle spasms associated with EDS. Exercise for stabilizing the joints is important as well. Because of this, dry needling is most effective when followed by other manual therapy techniques to re-educate the joint on its most stable position. Muscle energy techniques and myofascial release are also typically done.
If you have any suspicion that you might have a Hypermobility Syndrome, Connective Tissue Disorder or Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, find a specialist in your area. With hEDS, knowledge truly is power and you can become a better self-advocate for your care. Though there is yet to be a “cure,” physical therapy remains the best line of treatment.