Is Your Body Stretchy? Here's Why It's Important To Recognize
Being flexible could mean more achey-ness unless you know what to do
It's common for us to see patients in our clinic that have long-term, ongoing pain. Many times, they can't tell you why. There is no incident tied to the pain. There's just no real good reason and nothing to blame it on.
Being an orthopedic specialist, I can usually get to the crux of the problem relatively quickly but, sometimes the puzzle is just confusing and, for the wrong provider, some of the puzzle pieces are missing. One of the puzzle pieces we were missing years ago is hypermobility and instability. When we see the signs, we have to back up and do some testing.
As part of my normal orthopedic testing, there are signs that can pop up from time to time that suggests a patient may have some instability or hypermobility. One of them is when I have them standing up and just tell them to bend forward at the waist as far as they can. If they are straight-legged and they put their hands flat on the floor, they are probably hypermobile. That is one of my main indicators but there are several little hints. Another one is when a patient is laying on their back and I ask if they can keep both knees straight and raise both heels about 6 inches off of the table. If their heels come up off of the table and you see the knees hyperextend, they are likely hypermobile.
So, I suspect they are hypermobile. Now what?
The next step is to put them through the Beighton Scale. The Beighton Scale goes like this:
- Ability to touch palms flat to floor with knees straight (one point)
- Hyperextend elbows beyond 10° (one point for each side)
- Hyperextend knees beyond10° (one point for each side)
- Ability to touch thumb to the forearm (one point for each side)
- Fifth finger(pinkie) joint extension beyond 90° (one point for each side)
Scores of 4 or above indicate Generalised Joint Hypermobility.
Obviously, the higher you score, the more hypermobile you tend to be. This means the more susceptible you can be to joint pain and overall chronic pain.
For a picture and a deeper description of the Beighton Scale, check out the link:
In general, a Beighton Scale score of over 5 or so should make a provider very suspicious of the patient having Ehlers-Danlos. Their connective tissue is made up of the same stuff but it's arranged differently to allow them to stretchier and more elastic.
While this seems like a good thing on the surface, all of that flexibility comes at a cost. It means there is typically more movement and less stability in the joints of the body. When you have more movement, you have more opportunities for joint aggravation and low-grade discomfort or pain.
When that is allowed to go on for too long, then you run into chronic pain and chronic pain can be a umbrella term. Meaning; other conditions are tied to chronic pain. They think chronic fatigue, headaches/migraines, fibromyalgia, depression, and sleep issues can be tied to chronic pain. Maybe even autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid. There may even potentially be a connection to systemic autoimmune issues like multiple sclerosis.
The point is that chronic pain can be a big deal. So, we need to treat it.
For Ehler-Danlos patients, one of the best ways to approach treatment is to tighten the loosened joints. When these patients engage in weight training and strength-building activities, they are firming up the joints and stabilizing them. If you reduce the motion in joints across the body, you reduce the opportunities for aggravated joints. Plus, just the pure benefits of movement, activity, and being healthy.
All of this combines to combat ongoing chronic pain which could potentially be effective at treating some of the other problems connected to chronic pain.
If you need to find out why you're hurting but there's no real reason for it, or if you're just ready to get back to your life after a time of being inactive and now you're hurting, give us a call at 806-355-3000 and let us help you get back on your feet and get back into your life.
Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP is double Board Certified as a Fellow in Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and Orthopedics as well as a Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Professionals, and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast (https://www.chiropracticforward.com). Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected] Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at https://www.amarillochiropractor.com.
Dr. Williams was voted Best Chiropractor In Amarillo in the Best of Amarillo 2020 & 2021. Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Medical at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109. If you are searching for a chiropractor near me, Dr. Williams is your Amarillo Chiropractor.
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Jeff S Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP