Many people have extremely flexible joints, which allows them a greater range of motion than the rest of us. Indeed, dancers, gymnasts and athletes often attribute their skill, at least in part, to their exceptional flexibility and ease of movement.
However, for the majority, hypermobility creates all sorts of issues. This condition can occur anywhere in the body but as feet contain more joints than anywhere else, this is where problems most commonly arise.
What Is Hypermobility?
Joint hypermobility affects the musculoskeletal system. It occurs when the connective tissues (ligaments, tendons and muscles) are looser than they should be. These tissues provide stability for our joints and allow them to move correctly – neither too much nor too little.
Loose connective tissue is, in effect, too floppy. This places undue pressure on joints and alters their natural movement. The result is strain, pain and injury.
What Cause Hypermobility?
The most common cause relates to collagen – the main component of connective tissue. In hypermobile people, the protein structure of collagen is different from the norm, which increases tissue flexibility. This alteration is caused by genetic changes, so the condition often runs in families.
Hypermobility can also be caused by poor muscle tone or certain conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes. These are a collection of hereditary tissue disorders which tend to be quite rare.
What Are the Symptoms?
The common symptoms are:
- Joint and muscle pain and/or stiffness
- Muscle fatigue – tired and achy limbs
- High incidence of injury – dislocation, strains and sprains
- Poor coordination and problems with balance – tripping and falls
- General clumsiness of movement
Who Is Most Affected by Hypermobility?
The condition is most common in children under 10 but it is also found in adolescents, and occasionally in younger adults in their late teens and early twenties. For many, the symptoms decrease or even disappear altogether as they get older, but for others, the problems can persist.
How Can Your Podiatrist Treat Joint Hypermobility?
Due to its genetic nature, this condition can’t be completely cured, but happily, there are many ways to manage and improve the situation. Knees, ankles and feet are the common problem areas, and this is exactly where your podiatrist can help.
At Feet By Pody, our experienced podiatrists can guide you through exercises to strengthen the muscles of your legs, feet and ankles. This improves joint stability and balance and helps your lower limbs to move and support each other correctly. This lessens the likelihood of injury to the connective tissues.
Improving Posture and Movement
Poor posture adds to the problem by placing unnatural pressure on tissues and joints. A biomechanical assessment will pinpoint exactly how you are standing and moving. We can then make corrections with exercise and orthotics, and advise you on the right footwear.
Wear the Right Shoes
Poorly fitting shoes with inadequate support place additional strain on your joints and connective tissues. This isn’t good for anyone but is particularly bad for hypermobility sufferers. Sturdy shoes that fit correctly are essential to support your feet and ankles and prevent further issues. Your podiatrist will advise you on the best footwear for your condition.
Custom-made insoles improve stability and mechanical function as well as overall postural alignment. This helps to stop feet and ankles from moving incorrectly, thus reducing strain on soft tissues and joints.
Expert Care at Feet By Pody
There’s no need to struggle with hypermobility. Pop round to one of our convenient London foot clinics for friendly advice and expert treatment.