What treatments are there for joint hypermobility?

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If you have symptoms of joint hypermobility then a combination of rest, exercise and physiotherapy will often help, but drug treatments are also available if you need them.

Physical therapies

Research funded by Arthritis Research UK has shown the value of exercise. In most cases you can ease your symptoms by doing gentle exercises to strengthen and condition the muscles around the joints that are particularly flexible. The important thing is to do these strengthening exercises often and regularly but not to overdo them. Use only small weights, if any.

A physiotherapist will be able to advise you on suitable exercises. For some people gentle stretching seems to be as effective as strengthening.

You can use splints or firm elasticated bandages can be used if you need to protect your joints against dislocation. An occupational therapist or physiotherapist can advise on these. It’s also quite common for hypermobile people to manipulate and click their loose joints, which often makes the joints feel better. But sometimes you may need professional medical help to manipulate the joint back into place.

Read more about physiotherapy and arthritis.

Drugs

Painkillers (analgesics) are the usual treatment if you have symptoms. Paracetamol is normally the first choice. It's often better to take a dose before activity to keep the pain under control rather than waiting until it's very bad. Your doctor can prescribe a stronger painkiller such as co-codamol or co-dydramol if necessary, though these may sometimes cause side-effects such as constipation or dizziness.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be more helpful if your joint often swells up, especially after dislocation. You can buy ibuprofen from your local chemist or supermarket without a prescription. See your doctor if the regular dose isn't helping, as they may be able to prescribe a higher dose or a different NSAID. NSAIDs can cause digestive problems so your doctor may prescribe another drug along with the NSAID to help protect your stomach. Your doctor will be cautious about prescribing NSAIDs if you may be at increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Painkillers and NSAIDs are also available as sprays or creams which you can apply directly to the painful joint. These may not be quite so effective but may be an option if tablets aren't suitable for you.

  • NSAID sprays or creams

Surgery isn't generally recommended for hypermobile joints. However, if you tear (rupture) a tendon (which is more likely than usual if you have hypermobile joints) then this should usually be repaired with surgery..

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