Hypermobility is starting to become more well recognised. Hypermobility is a genetic condition affecting between 20-30% females and 10-15% males, although these numbers vary widely. Different ethnic backgrounds will have higher levels of hypermobility than the general population like Asian populations. Most elite athletes are hypermobile or have a degree of peripheral hypermobility. It can be amazingly helpful in a sporting context particularly when you think about the swimmers or ballet dancers. However, it can become a problem when patients are not exercising or have stopped exercising and lose the ability to control their joints movement. Children can also run into difficulty if they haven’t been big exercisers as they can lack the necessary strength and support around the joints and start developing pain or problems with their joints.
Hypermobility is often seen as a cause of a condition yet it is only a part of the overall package. People who are hypermobility need very good support through their joints and need to be doing very diligent exercise to ensure they have adequate strength and control throughout. Often hypermobile people can have increased sensitivity with pain and injuries which can lead to maladaptive patterns developing.
Assessing someone who is hypermobile is a combination of clinical tests and a subjective assessment. there are several scales we use including the Beighton and Brighton scales yet these are often inadequate as they don’t explain the person who has had 10 years of spinal pain and developed marked stiffness through the system as a way of compensating. It is helpful to have a complete assessment by a clinician who is used to seeing many hypermobile people and managing these nuances.