Joint Hypermobility Syndrome by Carly Bloggs
Joint Hypermobility Syndrome by Carly Bloggs
Written by Carly Bloggs
Joint Hypermobility and Joint Hypermobility Syndrome are two very different things. I'd
guess that most people have heard of Joint Hypermobility, probably as being "double
jointed"? It's quite common, especially in children. Most people will grow out of it as they age
or use it to their ability doing sports such as gymnastics or dance. I too was a dancer until
my mid to late teens and I never really thought much about being hypermobile. In fact, I
didn't ever think I was! There were people far more flexible than me and I just presumed
what I could do was normal.
My ability to do the splits and contort into strange positions was my party trick in my twenties. It even used to win me money when I worked as a barmaid. There was many a person who didn't believe I could do the splits and regretted it when I'd bet them I could. Honestly, you've never seen people's eyes water quite as much as when you drop from standing. Still though, I never thought anything of it. It didn't hurt so why would I?
It was when I hit my 30's that everything started to go a bit wrong. I noticed my knees were clicking more than ever and they'd started to hurt with it. My ankles and feet slowly started to get clickier and ached more too. Then my hands started to join in. Elbows and shoulders too. Gradually, over a couple of years, more and more pain developed. The fatigue started to hit me too. By 2pm I'd be absolutely knackered, to the point I could quite easily fall asleep at my desk. I'd wake up after 8 hours sleep and still be tired. I'd gone from being able to walk 5k, quite happily pushing my son's pram to barely being able to walk for 5 minutes.
This was when I decided enough was enough and went to see my GP. I was referred to every department that deals with joints. Sent for blood tests to check for everything and anything and xrays and MRI scans of my lower body.
I probably should point out here, I fractured my spine slipping on ice when I was 13. I was sent home from hospital the same day and told I was fine. Aged, 20 I then slipped on a wet floor (yes I'm clumsy as hell! This will be relevant though!) and slipped 2 discs. It was then that I was sent to a specialist and was asked about the accident when I was 13. I said, "I had a fall, was sent home and told I was fine."
"No.... You fractured your vertebrae" said the specialist. My mum and I must have been a picture sat there with our jaws on the floor. But I digress. Since this time, I have slipped/prolapsed discs pretty much every year. Every pain I ever had in my lower body, I always put down to my back playing up.
The new x rays actually picked up on a stress fracture in my hip. I have been asked many times how it happened..... I literally don't have a clue. At the same time as finding this out, I finally had an appointment with Rheumatology. Many of my symptoms match that of Rheumatoid Arthritis: stiff joints, clicking, fatigue. The thing I was missing was swelling.
Though I often feel like my joints (especially my feet and ankles) are swollen, they're not. I was diagnosed that day with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome.
I had absolutely no idea what that meant! The specialist I had seen was quite vague too so the research was down to me and Google.
Joint Hypermobility gets the "Syndrome" added when it becomes painful basically. As I said, most people will grow out of hypermobility. If they don't, it will never usually affect their ability to carry on with a normal life. Unfortunately, for some, like me, it does. It was only after I started researching it that I realised how many symptoms I had. And have had since my teens! Joint Hypermobility Syndrome affects so much more than just the joints.
● Pain and/or stiffness in joints and muscles.
● Easily getting sprains and strains.
● Dislocating joints or feeling them "pop out"
● Having poor balance, spatial awareness and coordination.
● Thin, stretchy skin that bruises easily.
● Having digestive issues such as IBS or intolerances.
As soon as I read the symptoms, so many things made sense to me! As previously stated, I'm clumsy as hell! I'm forever walking into things like door frames or the island in our kitchen. I'm always covered in bruises and joke that I bruise like a peach. The biggest shock was the stomach issues though. I'd had problems since my early teens and had never managed to put my finger on what the trigger was. I'd actually cut out gluten and cows milk a year or so before this diagnosis. Having this diagnosis has actually done more wonders for my mental health more than my physical. Knowing that there was actually something going on and I wasn't going mad was what I needed. Having this information already made me feel a bit better!
Now I had a diagnosis, it was time to tackle it head on. There is no cure for Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, it's a case of working with it to improve the symptoms and your quality of life.
I'd been taking co-codamol on and off for years due to my back. I hate them, with a passion. It was suggested that I take a low dose of Amitriptyline (an antidepressant) as it's known to help with pain along with Naproxen (an anti-inflammatory). So I've been doing this ever since. I honestly can't say they've made any difference whatsoever. I was still taking co- codamol to help me sleep every night. And I'm not talking the over the counter strength. Sleeping can be an issue with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome. I've suffered with insomnia in the past but I can also sleep for 10 hours at other times. You're in pain so can't sleep but haven't slept so you're in pain. It's a horrible circle! In order to knock myself out at night, codeine was the answer. It plays havoc with your body though and it's now not recommended for long term use (if you've ever taken it long term, you'll understand why!).
This is where CBD has become my godsend. I'd tried the oil drops once before and as far as I was concerned, they didn't work. It's only from talking to Stuart from Herbaleyes that I was told, I wasn't taking enough for my level of pain. At the time I was trying the drops again but from a different company. Stuart still advised me on the dosage I should be taking and the frequency.
My pain levels vary from day to day. I can go from a 3 to a 7 or 8 out of 10 in a day. From usual aches and pains to feeling like my skin is on fire. Because of this, I didn't find that the drops worked for me. I need something that works more immediately. This is where I've found CBD flowers help me.
I know smoking isn't everyone's cup of tea (which is also available) but I used to smoke tobacco so it still comes quite naturally to me. Even after 4 years. I tried a couple of pre-rolls first which were great! As soon as I've taken a few breaths of it, I can feel it working. Immediately I feel more relaxed which, in turn, relaxes my muscles and eases pain. I tend to smoke in the evening once the children have gone to bed and I can full immerse myself into relaxation.
It's a feeling that's hard to explain. You feel chilled but depending on the strain, still awake and able to function. Or so relaxed you have no problem sleeping. Having struggled with sleep, this was a welcome relief! I no longer take codeine to get me to sleep. On writing this, it's been about 4 months since I had to take it to sleep. I've taken it once when my pain levels got to a 9 but that's the only time my pain has been that high. There's no nasty side effects either.
I've tried a few different strains now and have loved each one. I don't smoke every day, only when I feel I need to. My pain has steadily decreased and I'm not having the extreme flare ups of pain nearly as often now. I have everyday aches and pains but they're easy to handle. After years of constant pain, you get used to living with a certain level. It's nice to know you have something natural to help you through though. Smoking a single skin of flower can take my pain from an 8 back down to a 3 or 4 within a few minutes. It's exactly what I need!
I can't thank Stuart enough for his advice and I look forward to seeing how much my pain improves in the future. If you want to know more about Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (along with recipes and reviews) then head over to my blog. You can find me at www.carlybloggs.co.uk or on Instagram @carlybloggs.