LIVING WITH BENIGN JOINT HYPERMOBILITY SYNDROME
The following useful information refers to Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (BJHS), a common joint or muscle problem in children and young adolescents. This information comes from Nikki Rawlings and Kiran Franklin, Senior Physiotherapists at Physio Ed Medical, who have helped many children cope with physical challenges over the years we have worked with them.
Is this a familiar scenario? It’s the third time in a few days you’ve heard your teen complain of lower back pain, not to mention the neck ache and knee pain they complained of last week. Perhaps they’ve had aches and pains and stiffness for some time now. You’ve put some of their mood and tiredness down to their being a ‘hormonal teen’ but what if there is something a little more at play and there could be some very simple things you could do to help your child?
With BJHS, joints are often looser and the term “double jointed” is often used to describe the extra laxity. It can often impact large joints within the body, and it can present in a number of different ways.
The lists below might help identify where BJHS might be at the root of a child’s physical complaints and offer some guidance on how to deal with it, but there is no substitute for a professional diagnosis.
It is common for children with BJHS to complain of:
• Joint pains and muscular stiffness after exercise
• Recurrent joint sprains
• Feelings of joints popping – commonly in knees and shoulders
• Subluxation where joints feel like they move or pop out
• Poor balance and coordination problems
• Aches in their calves and thighs
Important contributory factors:
• Reduced muscular strength
• Long hours spent studying can cause further deconditioning in the muscles protecting the joints
• Sustained postures with tablet or mobile phone use
• Impact or repetitive exercises stressing the joints without adequate supporting strength
How best to manage BJHS:
• Strengthening the stabilising muscles around each joint
• Tailored exercise to help improve posture and muscular balance/stability
• Balance and coordination exercises
How we can help as physiotherapists at Physio Ed Medical Ltd;
• Assessment and tailored exercise prescription
• Progressive exercise for long term management of BJHS
• Manual therapy to help address sprains/strains
• Direct referral and liaison with a Consultant Paediatrician and Paediatric Rheumatologist.
It is important to note that some forms of BJHS can present similarly to juvenile arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, so it is worth consulting a specialist as part of the overall management plan in order to exclude other potential pathologies. If you are unsure or have any questions about your child, we recommend an initial assessment in clinic, so that the appropriate management and any onward referral can be actioned if necessary.
Nikki and Kiran are Senior Physiotherapists at Physio Ed Medical in Belsize Village, with extensive experience in hypermobility and adolescent rehabilitation. They have worked with high level dancers and athletes, who often fall under the hypermobile bracket and find it allows them to do what they do so well. This experience means they have the experience and ability required to assess and tailor a specific rehabilitation program to suit your child’s individual needs.
Nikki Rawlings and Kiran Franklin
Physio Ed Medical Ltd