Helping kids of all ages to live a more active life through FUNctional movement.
By: Michelle Warren, PT
Hypermobility in Pediatrics refers to a condition where children have joints that move beyond the typical range of motion. Hypermobility can be localized or can be a problem throughout many joints for some individuals. Some people have Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder caused by genetic changes in the collagen fibers in the body. Other times, hypermobility is caused by an injury or frequently training outside of a typical range of motion (such as in some sports like gymnastics).
There are many symptoms that include:
While some degree of flexibility is normal in children, hypermobility can cause various concerns such as joint instability, pain, and difficulties with everyday activities.
Many children with hypermobility have unstable joints which are more likely to result in dislocations or subluxations, which can cause pain, injury, and limit movement. Joint instability can also increase the risk of developing arthritis later in life. Pediatric physiotherapy can help to address joint instability by working to strengthen the muscles around the affected joint which provide support and stability. Also, therapy incorporates proprioception activities so your child improves body awareness and learns to prevent injury and to protect his/her joints. Exercises such as resistance training, neuromuscular training, balance training, and functional activities can help to improve joint stability and reduce the risk of injury.
Pain is another common concern for children with hypermobility. Joint pain can be caused by inflammation, muscle strain, or overuse. Pediatric physiotherapy can help to reduce pain by using techniques such as manual therapy and modalities like acupuncture, heat or ice. Physiotherapists can also teach children and their families pain management techniques such as relaxation techniques, deep breathing, and mindfulness.
Difficulty with everyday activities is another concern for children with hypermobility. Children may experience difficulty with fine motor skills, gross motor skills, or activities of daily living. Pediatric physiotherapy can help address these concerns by working with your child to develop strategies to improve their abilities. For example, children may benefit from exercises that focus on improving hand-eye coordination or balance training to improve their ability to walk or run.
There are many ways to address hypermobility depending on the causes and the goals of the affected person. In addition to the therapy options mentioned above, sometimes some kind of bracing is suggested to limit pain and/or excessive movement in a joint. Your child’s pediatric physiotherapist will also make recommendations about safer sporting and activity choices that limit the risk of injury.
Hypermobility can decrease with age as the collagen fibers in our bodies tend to become less elastic with increasing age. But, it is still good to build general strength from a young age to help prevent many of the issues and potential long term effects.
As you have read, hypermobility in children can cause a range of concerns including joint instability, pain, and difficulty with everyday activities. Pediatric physiotherapy can help address these concerns by working to improve joint stability, reduce pain, and improve functional abilities. If you are concerned that your child may have hypermobility, book an assessment with a physiotherapist with specialized training in pediatrics to start a comprehensive treatment plan today. This can help your child reach their full potential now and in the future.
Our team here at Play On Pediatric Therapy in Ottawa, Ontario can help your child with hypermobility in their joints.