In Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS), the joints incur continuous damage over years contributing to worsening pain and disability. Therefore, a major goal in the management of JHS is to prevent damage to joints. To achieve this, physiotherapy and lifestyle changes (in terms of doing things differently) are essential tools that lower pain levels and increase independence.
It is imperative to take up a physiotherapy regime that involves progressive strengthening of the core, leg, hand and foot muscles. A proper exercise and rehabilitation program can improve the muscle power, joint control, and stamina. The second component of the physiotherapy is to retrain and improve the proprioception.
There are many adaptive and joint preserving ways of performing routine tasks that once mastered become a new lifestyle- a new way of doing things.
1. Use joints in a good or optimum position. Avoid twisting or positions that affect the proper functioning of a joint. Learn good postures for sitting, standing, leaning in and working.
2. Make sure you don’t hold your arms, hands or legs in the same position for a long time. Staying in the same position for a prolonged time creates muscle stiffness and increases pain.
3. Avoid tight grips or gripping for long periods
4. Some tips to decrease joint strain are:
– Using thicker or padded pens for writing.
– Avoid wringing out wet clothes or hand washing.
– Relaxing your hands regularly during intensive activities such as writing.
– Use ergonomically designed and non-slip (easy grip) objects: pens, mats, book rests, laptop stands, table/ place mats, vegetable cutting boards, etc.
– Avoid high heels and cobblestone paths
5. Avoid activities where you over-extend your joints and be mindful during activities.
– Use a flat hand where possible such as when dusting or wiping.
– Try to use lightweight mugs with large handles rather than small teacups to avoid over-extension of the joints of thumb, index and middle fingers.
– Be mindful of steps and stairs. Be mindful when carrying a baby, it really makes your posture go awry.
6. Use one large joint or many small joints to do the same job. Try to spread the force over multiple joints.
– Use the palms of your hands and not your fingers when you carry plates or dishes.
– When standing up from a chair, try to rock gently forward and use your leg muscles to stand up rather than pushing from your knuckles or wrists.
– Carry light bags from a strap on your shoulder rather than your hands.
– Use your bottom or hips to close drawers or move light chairs.
– Use your forearms to take the weight of objects when carrying, not your hands.
It is helpful to get someone else to do some of the activities that are too hard for you. However, not everyone has the means or situation to do that. I have found it important to lower my own expectations of myself, my life and others in order to make things easier. Depending on the joints that are painful, you might already have some adaptations that you apply to activities of daily life.
Please share your experiences on how you try to make things easier on your affected joints.
By: Karin (read more about ME here)