Hydrotherapy for Hypermobility Syndromes
Joint hypermobility is when joints are excessively flexible and cause pain.
All joints have varying ranges of movement. Ligaments and muscles provide a joint with stability and allow movement. Those who are hypermobile have too much movement around their joints. The looseness of the supporting structures lead to joint instability. Excess movement may cause discomfort, pain and swelling. A growth spurt, lack of exercise or an accident can increase symptoms.
Symptoms of Hypermobility Syndrome are:
- Getting tired, even after rest.
- Getting pain and stiffness in joints and muscles.
- Repeated sprains and strains.
- Dislocation of joints (they “pop out”).
- Poor balance and co-ordination. (The receptors in our joints tell us the position of our bodies in the environment. When there is too much movement around the joints the receptors don’t get the same messages as when there is less movement. In children, these symptoms may lead to poor co-ordination and difficulties with daily activities such as handwriting, holding cutlery and getting dressed).
There is no cure for joint hypermobility syndrome. The main treatment recommended by the NHS is improving muscle strength and fitness, so that joints are better protected.
Hydrotherapy can be an effective adjunct to exercises for hypermobility, especially when weightbearing and land exercises prove difficult or too painful.
This is because:
- The warmth of the water allows muscles to relax. This may ease pain in joints, making exercises easier.
- Water supports your body weight. This can help relieve pain and increase the range of movement of your joints.
- The water can be used to provide resistance to joint movement without the use of weights. By pushing your arms and legs against the water, you can improve your muscle strength and tone and increase stability around joints.
- Water exercises can help with cardiovascular function and improve proprioception (joint position sense).
- The water can reduce stress on joints.
- The buoyancy of the water can improve balance, coordination, posture, and trunk control, as well as kidney and respiratory function, and circulation.
- The compression of the water can reduce joint and soft tissue swelling.