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Hypermobility increases the risk of fractures for lots of reasons, including reduced bone mass, weaker bones, and smaller cortical bone mass. But getting doctors to accept that hypermobility increases the risk of fractures isn’t always as easy as it should be.
Do you feel like you fracture more often than other people? Do you wonder why hypermobility increases the risk of fractures?
If so, you’ve come to the right place.
There are many reasons why fracture risk rises with hypermobility. Let’s find out more about this and how hypermobility affects the bones in our bodies.
Why hypermobility increases the risk of fractures
Hypermobility increases the risk fractures because it reduces bone mass. The less bone mass you have, the more likely you bones are to break. One study found that hypermobility increases the risk of low bone mass by 1.8 times.
But why are the bones weakened?
Hypermobility causes joint pain and people with the condition need to take frequent rest breaks. Physical activity can make your tired and feel pain, so a reduction in these activities is common.
But this weakens the bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. As a result, the joints have less support, and slips, trips, and falls that may break bones are common.
To overcome this and to keep your bones as strong as possible, it’s recommended that people with hypermobility regularly do strengthening exercises, such as Pilates.
How does hypermobility affect bones?
People with hypermobility typically have smaller bones than people without the condition. A 2020 study concluded that people with hEDs or HSD have a smaller cortical bone area and smaller cortical thickness. They also had a higher incidence of fractures.
The cortical bone is the outer part of the bones and acts as a protective layer. The less of this you have, the more likely you are to sustain a fracture.
How to reduce the risk of hypermobile-related fracture
The key is to keep strong. We understand that physical activity can be draining and painful. It’s best to start with little and often. For example, a 5-minute walk is better than no walk, and walking up a flight of stairs is preferable to jumping in a lift.
- Bicep curls with light weights – a tin of beans are great for those just starting out!
- Leg raises with resistance bands
Does hypermobility cause stress fractures?
Hypermobility can increase the risk of stress fractures. These are small cracks in the bone caused by repetitive stress. When a joint moves beyond its normal range of motion repeatedly, it can create micro-trauma to the bones, leading to stress fractures. This is especially true for athletes who engage in repetitive movements or high-impact activities, such as running or jumping.
Does hypermobility increase the risk of fractures in children?
This is a controversial question and one that researchers and medical professionals are yet to agree on.
We already know that adults with hypermobility have weaker bones and more fractures than people who aren’t hypermobile. But no one seems to know at what stage of life the bones of hypermobile people weaken.
As a result, the parents of young children with fractures are often accused of abuse. This is particularly the case if the child has a metaphyseal fracture which is typically assumed to be caused by a twist or pull.
Many children with hEDS have more fractures than children without the condition. One study found that 42.8% of people with hEDS had at least one fracture as a child.
Thankfully, science is slowly coming around to the idea that hypermobility may be the cause of these fractures.
In 2022, Marvin Miller of Dayton Children’s Hospital put forward the idea that infants born to mothers with hEDS were at increased risk of fractures early in life. His theory is that the hyperelastic state of the mother’s uterine wall reduces fetal bone loading.
Normal fetal bone loading is crucial for building bones of typical strength.
Miller adds ‘A pregnancy in which both the mother and fetus have hEDS will have both of these factors that diminish fetal bone loading, and this situation will be the most extreme for causing bone fragility in the immediate postnatal period of time.’
Fractures can happen at any time, particularly when you’re hypermobile. The good news is that physical activity can strengthen your body and reduce the chance of a hypermobility-related break.