Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder and Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome are two common heritable genetic disorders of connective tissue. Both conditions are characterised by excessive joint range of motion and the presence of musculoskeletal symptoms, and are associated with joint instability, motion incoordination, decreased joint position sense, and musculoskeletal pain. Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder is the new classification for what was previously known as Joint Hypermobility Syndrome. This systematic review evaluates the evidence for physical and mechanical treatments for lower limb problems in children with Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder and Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PUBMED and CINAHL were searched to October 2017 for randomised controlled trials (RCT) and quasi-RCTs evaluating physical and mechanical interventions for lower limb problems in children with hypermobility. Two authors independently screened studies for eligibility for inclusion and three review authors independently assessed risk of bias of included studies. One author extracted and analysed statistical data, which were checked by a second author.
Two RCTs including a total of 86 participants were eligible for inclusion. Trials evaluated differences between generalised versus targeted physiotherapy programs and between performing knee extension exercises to the neutral versus hypermobile range. There was no clear benefit of any of the physical therapies evaluated.
There is very limited evidence to guide the use of physical and mechanical therapies for lower limb problems in children with Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder and Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Mechanical therapies have not been evaluated in RCTs and results of the two RCTs of physical therapies do not definitively guide physical therapy prescriptions. Current studies are limited by small sample sizes and high attrition rates. No physical therapy has been compared to a sham intervention no intervention or no intervention, so overall effectiveness is unknown.