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Managing Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) with Physical Therapy

Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) is a genetic connective tissue disorder characterized by joint hypermobility, instability, injury, and pain. Individuals with HSD often experience chronic symptoms, such as joint and muscle pain, fatigue, frequent sprains and strains, and joint dislocation. Physical therapy, with its expertise in anatomy and movement, offers effective strategies to alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals with HSD.

Understanding Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder:

Joints are the points where two or more bones meet, allowing movement. In individuals with HSD, the connective tissues, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments, may be looser than normal. Consequently, the range of motion in affected joints can exceed what is considered typical, compromising joint stability. This lack of stability increases the risk of injury and discomfort.

Symptoms of Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder:

Recognizing the symptoms of HSD is crucial for early diagnosis and appropriate management. Common symptoms include chronic fatigue, joint and muscle pain, frequent sprains and strains, joint dislocation or “popping,” poor balance or coordination, thin and stretchy skin, as well as bladder or bowel problems.

Role of Physical Therapy in Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder:

Physical therapists are movement experts who possess in-depth knowledge of the human body’s anatomy. They can play a significant role in managing HSD symptoms through various interventions, including:

Patient Education:

  1. Physical therapists educate individuals about the anatomy of joints and normal ranges of motion. This knowledge helps patients understand their condition better and empowers them to take an active role in their treatment.

Body Awareness:

  1. By enhancing body awareness, physical therapists assist patients in recognizing and managing their joint instability. This includes teaching individuals how to identify and respond to their body’s signals, thereby reducing the risk of injury.

Stability Exercises:

  1. Through targeted muscle-strengthening exercises, physical therapists aim to improve joint stability. By strengthening the surrounding muscles, stability exercises offer additional support to the affected joints, reducing pain and the risk of further injury.

Addressing Faulty Movement Patterns:

  1. Physical therapists evaluate patients’ movement patterns and identify any faulty mechanics or postural abnormalities. By addressing these issues, they help individuals optimize their movement, reduce pain, and prevent future complications.

Bracing and Orthotics:

  1. In certain cases, physical therapists may recommend the use of braces or orthotic devices to provide external support to the affected joints. These assistive devices can enhance stability and reduce strain during physical activities.

Ergonomic Recommendations:

  1. Physical therapists may provide ergonomic recommendations, such as proper chair and desk setup at work, to optimize posture and reduce joint stress during daily activities. These adjustments promote joint health and minimize discomfort.

Benefits of Physical Therapy for HSD:

Engaging in physical therapy treatment can yield numerous benefits for individuals with HSD, including:

Pain Relief:

  1. Physical therapy techniques, such as manual therapy and targeted exercises, help alleviate joint and muscle pain, improving overall comfort and well-being.

Improved Quality of Life:

  1. By addressing symptoms and promoting joint stability, physical therapy enables individuals with HSD to engage in daily activities with greater ease and confidence, thereby enhancing their quality of life.

Increased Strength and Stability:

  1. Through muscle strengthening exercises and stability training, physical therapy enhances muscle tone and joint stability. This improvement reduces the risk of joint dislocation, sprains, and strains.

Identifying Triggers:

  1. Physical therapists work closely with individuals to identify specific triggers that worsen HSD symptoms. By recognizing these triggers, patients can modify their activities and lifestyle to minimize discomfort and injury.

In conclusion, physical therapy provides a comprehensive and effective approach to managing Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder. If you’re seeking physical therapy care in Brooklyn, look no further than Inspira Physical Therapy. Book your appointment today to secure holistic care and take a proactive step towards managing your HSD symptoms and improving your quality of life.

Additional Resources/References:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/joint-hypermobility-syndrome/

Hypermobility Syndromes Association

Written by Dr. Kylie Reardon, PT, DPT 

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