Joint hypermobility: a mysterious and ‘cruelly deceptive illness’
Being ‘extra bendy’, although usually associated with particularly elegant, supple figures (including Sarah Jessica Parker and Shania Twain), can for some be a painful, debilitating and grossly overlooked illness.
Officially termed Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type III, hypermobility is a hereditary disease caused by a genetic mutation. It causes all the moving parts in the body – muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments, to become fragile and vulnerable to injury.
One sufferer, 37-year-old Isobel Knight, had her dancing career curtailed due to relentless back pain, chronic muscle and joint pain, dizziness and extreme fatigue caused by her hypermobility.
People with hypermobility are extremely flexible, often allowing them to move their limbs into unnatural positions. This can easily cause fractures, dislocation, autonomic nervous system disorders and even panic attacks.
Ms Knight said: “It’s a cruelly deceptive illness. When doctors examine you and ask you to do stretches, hypermobility means that you look really good – even better than non-hypermobile people. As a result, patients are often dismissed. In the beginning, friends don’t understand. Even your family struggles to work out why you’re in pain all the time.”
Now the Hypermobility Syndrome Association (HMSA) is hoping to raise awareness about this thoroughly unexplored and mysterious condition in a bid to help those suffering unaware.
56% of sufferers wait for 10 years or more for a diagnosis.
Ms Knight is now qualified to administer Bowen therapy, which is a gentle soft tissue massage beneficial for pain relief.
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