Hypermobility and pregnancy
When I was 17, 14 years ago, I had an accident on my scooter. Afterwards I was left with neck and back problems. The diagnosis in the first instance was whiplash, but it was not a classic whiplash. After 2 years I went to see a neurologist where an examination showed slight damage between 2 neck vertebra and physio-fitness was advised.
Many sessions with physiotherapists and manual therapists, chiropractors, Mensendieck therapists etc. followed but did not do much to relieve the symptoms. Therapists said I was very mobile and gave me the standard tips for posture which actually overstrained my neck and back, and the symptoms remained the same. I had to visit a physiotherapist or manual therapist almost once every 2 weeks to have my neck and back "put back straight" again. My condition did improve with the help of physio-fitness, as a result of which the chronic pain becoming slightly less, but I still couldn't work full-time: 26 hours was the maximum. I am a dietician and I wanted to work full-time after finishing my studies. I have also never really had a flourishing social life next to my work. The chronic tiredness and pain (head, neck and back pain radiating out to my shoulders and arms and facial pain) controlled my life. At one time I had to start taking a morphine-type medication so that I had enough energy for everyday life.
When I was 26 years old I stopped pain medication and started to work fewer hours because of being pregnant. Unfortunately after 4 months I began to suffer from pelvic instability. I was already visiting a physiotherapist and although he was not specialised in pelvic complaints, he did give me advice and exercises. I did my best but the symptoms only became worse: pain and enormous pressure on my pelvic floor, lower back pain, a lot of difficulty with walking and so on. In the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy I visited a specialist pelvic physiotherapist who gave me good exercises for relaxing the pelvic floor. I managed the last weeks before the delivery well but after the birth the lower back complaints increased as time went by. The neck, head and back pain were present the whole time.
I sought guidance from a company welfare worker because the symptoms affected my work. She came up with the idea of going to the Maartens Clinic because this clinic is specialised in the movement apparatus. I saw the rheumatologist there and he immediately diagnosed hypermobility syndrome. The doctor brought in a specialised rheumatism nurse with lifestyle advice and a sports doctor with the appropriate advice about movement. The sports doctor came to the conclusion that the middle part of my body, in particular, is very unstable and that this exacerbates the symptoms in my neck and back and that if this instability could be reduced, the symptoms would also decrease. I didn't have much faith in this... Arch supports were also advised. I went to be measured for them immediately and after using them for a week my feet and legs were much less tired.
After discussing the sports doctor's advice with my physiotherapist, she sent me straight to her colleague for Bugnet therapy. My neck, head and back pain was actually much less within several months of hard training to gain stability. Even the facial pain had disappeared! The shoulder pain that was playing up was also becoming less. I had more energy left over (as long as I kept an eye on my limits) and could even take up sport again (zumba and belly dancing). My hypermobile pelvis still regularly causes problems but with subtle exercises, symmetric movement and good posture I can keep my pelvis in a relatively good position.
I am now 31 years old and 7 months pregnant with my second child. The pregnancy hormones make the ligaments weaker / more supple but mine were already weak due to hypermobility! As a result I once again have problems with neck, head and back pain. The pelvic instability symptoms I had during my first pregnancy started to play up again (this time around the 12th week of the pregnancy). But now I know what I can do, how I can relax my pelvic floor better so that I suffer less pain. Unfortunately the pressure on my pelvic floor remains and walking is difficult. Since the fourth month of the pregnancy, I have worn a pelvic band when necessary if I have to walk 'a lot' (to the shops for instance). It gives a lot of support, as a result of which I have just enough energy over to tighten up the right buttock and stomach muscles so that walking is easier and my pelvis remains more stable.
I try to do the exercises to (literally) stay on my feet. Some days I have more energy left over for the exercises than on other days. The length of time differs as well: some times I can keep going for a quarter of an hour and other times only for 5 minutes. There are also days when I can't do my exercises at all but by watching my posture every day, tightening the right muscles (that is often automatic with the exercises) and paying particular attention to the symmetry of my movements, my muscles are actually working much better and I am feeling stronger than I did during my first pregnancy.
Luckily the little one is doing very well and that keeps me positive. I am sure that after the birth I will recover well and feel just as strong as I did before the pregnancy thanks to the Bugnet therapy.