There are many questions that come with babies, because babies can’t talk about their problems. You may have heard about joint hypermobility, and symptoms can be very difficult to live with if not managed properly and may require additional medical treatment to help ease these symptoms, but this can differ for each individual patient.
So, what is hypermobility in babies and children? Hypermobility in babies or children is a condition whereby a child has more than normal range of movement in some, or all, of the joints in their body. This can cause severe, on-going pain. Hypermobility is very common in babies and children, and is often referred to as being “double-jointed”, but that does not mean that this disorder is to be taken lightly.
If Hypermobility goes ignored, not only can it lead to pain, but it can also trigger degenerative cartilage and arthritis which, as a person gets older, can result in a higher risk of sprained ligaments. Therefore, recognising the signs of hypermobile joints will help significantly in terms of pain management and treatment.
Read on for more Hypermobility information including how to know if your baby or child has hypermobility, as well as appropriate hypermobility treatments for children.
How do I know if my baby has hypermobility?
One of the very first signs of hypermobility in babies and children is that they seem to be a little slower in terms of reaching their developmental milestones such as crawling and walking. Delayed walking in a child could be a sign that they are experiencing hypermobility complications in their ankles and knees, which could have a serious effect on their ability to progress into a fully active child.
Another important sign of Hypermobility joints in children is increased fatigue in comparison to other children their age. A little bit of tiredness after a busy day in the park does not qualify as a hypermobility symptom, however if a child becomes tired quicker than their peers on a regular basis, despite being well rested, then we would be slightly concerned.
Babies and children that have hypermobile joints complain of tiredness because they are quite literally working their bodies harder. Their muscles are having to work a lot harder to stabilise the weaker, more flexible joints which, ultimately, means they are burning energy a lot quicker and cannot keep up with their peers.
Additionally, these hypermobile joints will be more prone to injury and will regularly adopt positions in larger ranges than the norm, which can often cause stretched soft tissue and in some severe cases dislocations.
Another sign that a baby has Hypermobile joints in babies may be that they skip the crawling stage of development and adopt a form of bottom shuffling. Whilst this may seem adorable at first it can be a clear sign of hypermobile joints. This is because they do not have the required muscle strength around their joints to help stabilise their limbs and learn to crawl.
If you notice any of these signs in your baby or child, we recommend getting in touch for a Hypermobility Assessment to clarify whether your suspicions are correct or not.
Does Hypermobility get worse with age?
Hypermobility typically does not get worse with age because our joints naturally get more stiff as we age, therefore compensating for the hyper-flexibility previously experienced. This is exactly the same for babies and children with Hypermobile joints. In fact, some people will go their whole lives unaware of their hypermobility abilities due to age and increasing stiffness in the joints. Hypermobility occurs more frequently in children than adults.
However, there are some people that continue to experience hypermobility symptoms throughout their adult life, and require additional treatment and muscle management. That being said, this does not mean that the condition is severely debilitating.
What exercise is good for babies and children with joint hypermobility?
There are many different exercises that can aid the symptoms of hypermobility in babies and children, including swimming, cycling and dancing. Obviously, it is unreasonable to expect a young baby to ride a bike, but alternatives such as taking them to a baby swimming class can significantly improve the strength of the muscles around their weaker, more flexible joints.
For very young babies, taking them to soft play areas provides an opportunity to safely become more active with their limbs and joints, whilst also contributing to building strength and easing symptoms of Hypermobile joints as they grow.
Child Physiotherapy can also be a fantastic method of managing Hypermobility in babies and children. Trained physiotherapists who specialise in this specific condition can offer expert guidance and provide parents with key exercises to perform at home that will support their child’s mobility and strength.
In a few cases, severe or widespread hypermobility or hypomobility alongside other specific symptoms, may be an indicator of another condition such as Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder that for a small percentage of people can be diagnosed if they constantly have pain, fatigue and regular joint/ligament injuries.
If you have concerns that this may apply to your child, you should consult with your child’s GP. There is also lots of information and advice on the Hypermobility Syndrome Association website.
About Therapy Stars
Therapy Stars are a team of trained physiotherapists that specialise in the assessment and treatment of babies, children and young adults with mobility issues. To find out more about our services, get in touch with our friendly and informative team today.
If your child requires physiotherapy, please click on the link below and fill out our Parent Questionnaire prior to their first appointment. This will save time when your child’s Therapist visits to assess your child.