You may have been told that you are ‘double jointed’, but what does this mean?
The term ‘double jointed’ is misleading as it sounds like you have multiple joints in one area of the body.
Unless you do in fact have two joints, ‘double jointed’ usually means you have some degree of joint hypermobility and that those joint(s) can stretch further than what is considered the ‘normal’ range of movement.
There are different degrees of joint hypermobility ranging from having one joint that is very flexible to having numerous flexible joints around the body.
Hypermobility is more common in females and is usually a genetic condition that you are born with.
This means you may be able to identify other family members with the same increased joint flexibility.
The Beighton Score test (below) helps to diagnose how hypermobile you are.
A score of 4+ usually warrants a follow up with a physiotherapist to help with a management program for your increased joint hypermobility.
Most people with flexible joints do not have any pain or symptoms throughout their life, however sometimes joint hypermobility can lead to reoccurring pain in multiple joints, muscular pain surrounding the joints or generalised fatigue.
This pattern of symptoms is called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Joint Hypermobility Syndrome) and may need treatment from a physiotherapist with a focus on pain and injury management.
If you are hypermobile, the joints can lack support from the ligaments and surrounding soft tissue.
This may lead to increased soft tissue injuries, subluxations (when the bone partially moves out of a joint), dislocations (when the bone completely comes out of the joint) and repetitive strains and sprains.
If you do have some degree of hypermobility there are a number of things you can do to help yourself.
One of these is seek advice from your physiotherapist to help strengthen the muscles that support your joints to prevent further or future injuries.
This is especially important if you are playing sport or partaking in high impact activities.
Developing an exercise program with your physio or exercise physiologist that challenges your proprioception, teaches good posture and builds strength and control can help to manage any symptoms that may be occurring from your joint hypermobility, and help to decrease the likelihood of injuries, strains and sprains into the future.
Think you could have some hypermobility? Is it affecting your daily activities or sport?
Contact us today to discuss a management program to help prevent future injury and impairment.
David Wilson, myPhysioSA Physiotherapist Mount Barker