Happy 100th Post! It’s been just over 10 months and we’ve just hit 100 posts! Yay! I was going to publish a slightly long and boring post about ‘A Week In My Life’ today (message me though if you want to see that though!) but I decided to change it to a (possibly) long and (hopefully) less boring post! I’m going to be talking about Joint Hypermobility and how it affects me. I’ve used some gymnastics pictures as they’re less disgusting than some of the bendy weirdness I can do with my joints!
What is ‘Joint Hypermobility’?
Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (also known as JHMS, JHS, Hypermobility or more recently Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD)) is is a condition that features joints that easily move beyond the normal range expected for that particular joint (taken from medicinenet.com). Basically, it just means that I am very bendy! For instance, my knees bend further back than they’re meant to so they look slightly banana-ish when I stand! Many people, particularly gymnasts, may experience joint hypermobility but have no symptoms like a percentage of us do. Symptoms range from simply joint pain, to frequent dislocations, digestion problems, fatigue and in very serious cases can be wheelchair-bound. It is diagnosed in various ways including a scaling system for flexibility called the Beighton Score. The doctor tests a range on movement and ‘rates’ your flexibility/joint strength out of 9 (1 being totally inflexible known as hyPOmobility, 4 being normal range and 9 being very flexible). I scored 9/9! It is tested in flexibility you can’t really ‘develop’ (you can become flexible enough to do the splits but not bend your knee back further than you should). Does that make sense?
Personally, I’ve experienced a small range of (not VERY serious) symptoms and as a result I have seen a rheumatologist, physiotherapist, gastroenterologist, occupational therapist and dietician at the hospital since being diagnosed in 2014/15. They’ve all been very helpful in helping me understand and manage the condition. For a short while I was on painkillers called Naproxen (prescribed by Rheumatology) but I had to stop them as I developed a stomach ulcer (discovered by Gastroenterology). I do gymnastics which makes my joints much stronger.
How Does It Affect Me?
Other than the aforementioned symptoms, Joint Hypermobility affects me in other ways too. For example, you may think that I’d find gymnastics very easy, being as flexible as I am, but this is not the case. Because my joints are so flexible it means that they’re actually a lot weaker than they should be. It took me three years to learn how to hold a handstand properly because I lacked adequate strength in my shoulders and wrists and it takes me longer to build muscle. (I have been called a Jelly before!). I also cannot walk for long distances at a time or sit in the same position for a long time. I have a wrist splint that was given to me by the Occupational Therapist which I’m meant to wear to college but I don’t always!! As I have to work twice as hard to make my muscles ‘go’ I also suffer from chronic fatigue which means I get tired very easily (and more but let’s not get bogged down in that).
Let’s take a minute to remember, Joint Hypermobility affects ALL muscles, not necessarily just joints as you would think. This includes throat muscles, stomach muscles, bladder and bowel muscles too! Everything is just a bit weaker than it should be, which in turn turns me into a big floppy mess! Most people hate conditioning but I don’t mind it because my joints and muscles need it!
I hope this post has been useful in helping you understand Joint Hypermobility! Everyone assumes that you’re just flexible but there’s a bit more to it than that! I also hope that this post wasn’t too boring either!!
I have uploaded a new video to my Gymnastics channel, TheGymnasticsEdit if you would like to check that out! It’s a Trampoline Slip n’ Slide video and it was very fun (and scary!). Here’s a link:
Here’s to the next 100 posts!
Thanks for reading!