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Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD): What you Should Know

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

“If You’re Struggling From Hypermobility, Don’t Wait For The Pain To Be Too Much That You Can No Longer Ignore It."

Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) is a group of conditions characterized by joint hypermobility. It can affect a few joints (localized) or many (generalized). Symptoms can span a full spectrum from asymptomatic (no pain or dysfunction) to very symptomatic.

hands interlaced showing flexibility

Many of my clients fall into this category, and while it seems it should be a blessing to find out you don’t fit the criteria for hypermobile EDS (hEDS), sometimes it’s just the opposite. There is an additional challenge of feeling like the disorder is not clearly defined or recognized by others, whether it be a doctor, insurance provider, spouse, or parent. The musculoskeletal symptoms from HSD can be equally severe and the challenges one faces are equally legitimate and can be just as difficult to cope with.

Hypermobility means that the joint moves beyond a range that is normal, and is a primary feature in both hEDS and HSD. Joint hypermobility is often a primary cause of pain, physical trauma, and the potential decrease in the ability to function. Most often, this excessive movement causes:

● Poor coordination or difficulty balancing because the joint receptors do a bad job telling the brain what the body is doing- referred to as proprioception

● Instability, because the ligaments that provide stability to the joint are too loose; this often causes the sensation of joints “popping” but can also partially or even fully dislocate.

● Microtrauma, which is small tearing or bony degeneration that can happen over time as a result of excessive movement

● Macrotrauma, which are more recognizable injuries like when your kneecap moves out of place or the ankle sprains when you trip

● Acute Pain- after injury or dislocation

● Generalized, chronic pain that comes with time, as the body lowers its threshold to recognizing threat and increases the overall pain response

Some or all of these concerns can be reported by clients with either HSD or hEDS. In the musculoskeletal system, the severity of symptoms is independent of the diagnosis. And for people who don’t look “sick,” clients often deal with anxiety from people not believing them and doctors dismissing their concerns. Something that we can do is listen and acknowledge that these complaints are valid and the pain is real.

female physical therapist working on woman's shoulder

If you’re struggling from hypermobility, don’t wait for the pain to be too much that you can no longer ignore it. Go see someone who understands or is willing to learn and get the help you deserve. Seek help from your primary care physician, a physical therapist, rheumatologist, geneticist or physiatrist. A directory of physicians can be found on The EDS Society website.

Physical therapists are in a unique position to help clients with joint hypermobility with techniques including: bracing recommendations, taping, neuromuscular re-education, posture retraining, gait training, strengthening, and pain management techniques. Rest assured that all of our therapists at Zion PT have a thorough understanding of connective tissue disorders. Here, you can count on having the time and attention you deserve to address your concerns with expert care and advice.

Phone: 212-353-8693 • Fax: 347-507-5510 • Office Email:

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