Hypermobility Syndrome, AKA Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS), Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type (EDS-HT), Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD)

July 15, 2015

Hands and arms: Little things that become challenges

If the joints of the elbows, wrists and fingers are injured or weak due to hypermobility syndrome, the person finds many day to day and mundane activities difficult or painful. They may be embarrassed to ask for help because these seems like absolutely easy things - especially for a seemingly healthy adult.

These are a few random things that I can think of right now which I find difficult to do. If you have such complaints, you will know that the list is bigger. But this enumeration is just to give an idea to people who may not be familiar with these challenges of a person with hypermobility syndrome.

  • Carrying a suitcase by its handle
  • Carrying a plastic bag with things inside. I have had intense joint pain in fingers lasting 4 months from carrying as much as 1 kilo of things in a plastic bag for an hour. 
  • Carrying a bucket full of water (even few litres may be difficult)
  • Writing fast or for long
  • Typing on the computer, using a mouse, using a laptop touchpad click keys
  • Typing on the mobile
  • Carrying the laptop from one room to another
  • Lifting a heavy book or holding a book in hand and reading
  • Lifting a jug full of water with its handle or filling a jug under a tap. 
  • Lifting even an empty cooking pan with its handle.
  • Letting a child hold your finger while walking (try to ask them to hold your hand and not just the same finger for a long time. Does not always work as they have their favorite way of holding your finger and may not want to change it. Try to change sides)
  • Straining tea if more than 6 cups
  • Straining starch from rice from a large bhagona (pot). 
  • Handling a vegetable peeler 
  • Kneading Atta (flour)
  • Rolling out rotis (flat breads)
  • Cooking a large amount of food in pan using a cooking spoon (requires wrist movement and a tight grip)
  • Opening the tight lid of a bottle.
  • Handling tools like Allen keys, screwdrivers, twisting and tightening tools, etc.
  • Pushing and pulling furniture
  • Washing clothes manually, wringing clothes - even small items 
  • Doing dishes manually - scrubbing burnt pans 
  • Sweeping floor with a jharu - the small phalanges will overextend
  • Supporting your chin with the heel of your hand when you are bored in a talk!
  • Holding a plate full of food at a standing buffet! 
  • Holding an umbrella
  • Doing back exercises that require supporting body weight on hands.  
Weather and climatic conditions can aggravate your pain. The things that I can do, albeit with pain instantly or later, I try to do over different days. Some things I just cannot do even if I try, and my close family members know and help me with these activities. It is good to ask for help especially if you are already in pain on a bad day.

It is easy to recognize that many of these activities are the daily routine household chores of an Indian woman and failing to do these can be a significant problem for a person, especially when you have nothing to show as the reason behind your "alleged pain". 
It is important to stay alert through the day and also through your sleep to notice the position of your wrist- try to keep it neutral. After my diagnosis I used to set an alarm clock to check my wrist position at regular intervals during the night till it became a habit. 

My wrists and finger joints allow movement beyond what is normal and healthy, and I had no way of knowing that when I was doing many activities, these joints were hyperextending. They got chronic injuries in the course of daily life, not during some rock climbing adventure. I remind my joints that "Just because you can does not mean you should".

Read my post on how to protect the joint of your hands here.