The Burger Joint
Ever been to a burger joint? Ever hear of joint hypermobility? What on earth do the two have in common?
Joint hypermobility is the presence of a larger than expected range of movement at a given joint of the human body. Sounds pretty harmless, right? Wrong.
This larger than expected range of movement is the cause of joint instability, joint dislocations and joint & muscle pain. Hypermobility CAN hurt! Simply put, when you have joint hypermobility, the cords that hold your joints together (ligaments) are like bungee cords, with lots of ‘give’ in them. This ‘give’ is what allows the joints to slip, get pushed, or pulled out of place in some people. Not everyone with hypermobility will dislocate or even partially dislocate joints; this is more common in people who are severely affected by hypermobility and experience it as part of a genetic condition like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Loeys-Dietz Syndrome or Marfan Syndrome.
That being said, people with a Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder, or even no “syndrome” or “disorder” can dislocate joints too.
Imagine for a minute you’re making a hamburger. Yes, a hamburger. When it’s just the meat and the bun, it’s easy to hold it together, and there isn’t much chance of you losing your meat (veggie pattie) as you take a bite. The more you stack in your burger, the further apart the bun gets and the wobblier your stack gets. You go to take a bite, and your tomato slides right out the side. Patella dislocation. You manage to get the tomato back in and take another bite when your beetroot slides out. Shoulder dislocation. We could go on and on.
But why are the parts of your hamburger falling out? Because the pressure from your hands holding the bun together isn’t right – it’s either too little or too much.
The same happens in a hypermobile joint. Muscles often go into spasm to hold a joint in place so that bones don’t slide right out of place. Sometimes these spasms are so intense and in the wrong muscles that they pull the joints out of place (too much pressure). However, it’s also common for bones to slip out simply because there isn’t enough holding the joint together (too little pressure).
The ligament is meant to do that job, but in hypermobility, it’s too stretchy and can’t hold the joint together. The muscles are there as 2IC or vice president to back up the ligaments, but often in hypermobility, the 2IC has to take the leading role.
Ever wondered why at a cafe or a burger joint you might get served a burger with a skewer through it? It’s holding it together. Much like a ligament is meant to keep a joint together. Take away the skewer and what starts happening? The insides start slipping out.
Why’s this important?
Joint hypermobility can occur in isolation, with no pain or other symptoms. We call this asymptomatic joint hypermobility. What’s more problematic is when it is accompanied by pain, fatigue, recurrent joint dislocations and a myriad of other symptoms. That’s when we start looking at one of the disorders or syndromes related to hypermobility: The Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Loeys-Dietz Syndrome, Marfan Syndrome, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, and Sticker Syndrome, to name the main ones.
These conditions have a range of other symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening and a lot of which can be severely life-restricting and debilitating. If you think you may have one of these conditions, you should talk to your doctor.
We are making some Hype about Hypermobility, May 7-13 because people are unaware of these conditions and the very real impact hypermobility can have on people. Explore our website to find out more.
What you can do to help!
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- Have a conversation with someone with a hypermobility condition & find out what it’s really like, or read some stories of Real people with Hypermobility
- Read more of the blog posts on our website
Michelle is a Senior Occupational Therapist working solely with adults with hypermobility and related conditions. Michelle is the owner of Hypermobility Connect, an online platform for people with hypermobility to connect with resources, health professionals & each other. Michelle practices OT in her private practice and provides education to health professionals relating to hypermobility conditions.