Lecture: What Every Dancer and Dance Educator Needs to Know about Hypermobility Disorders (Linda Bluestein)
Purpose: Participants will learn to identify common symptoms of hypermobility disorders and how to create healthy dancers, optimize career longevity and collaborate with healthcare professionals.
Participants: Dancers, dance educators, dance scientists, and healthcare professionals.
Design/Procedure: The presenter, a former dancer and integrative pain physician, will provide a conceptual analysis and recommendations based on their research and clinical practice.
Results/Conclusions: Joint hypermobility (JH) is extremely common amongst dancers and while aesthetically advantageous, JH can also be problematic. Hypermobility is categorized as localized, peripheral or generalized (GJH) and is the result of numerous factors including: genetics, gender, age, race, muscle tone, bone shape, and collagen strength. The spectrum of GJH ranges from the completely asymptomatic individual to one with a full-blown connective tissue disorder. When symptomatic, the umbrella term hypermobility disorders (HD) is used to identify these conditions.
Even in asymptomatic individuals with GJH, poor proprioception, muscle weakness and fatigue are more prevalent than in controls, predisposing them to joint instability and numerous types of injuries such as tendinopathy, joint subluxation and joint dislocation. Those with hypermobility disorders can have multisystemic comorbidities as well with gastrointestinal and/or cardiovascular symptoms, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep disorders being quite common. Within the medical community, JH is frequently missed as a factor contributing to pain and other symptoms. Delayed diagnosis is extremely common and may contribute to more severe injury, repetitive trauma, and psychological distress. (1)
A 2014 study revealed that dancers perceived dance teachers as first line treatment providers followed by physical therapists with physicians coming in third (2). Dance educators play an extremely important role in the health of all dancers and have a unique opportunity to inform and assist the hypermobile dancer. Although both dance students and dance teachers have a high prevalence of GJH (58-90%), dance teachers have been shown to have three times the likelihood of HD as compared to dance students (3,4), therefore gaining a better understanding of HD is beneficial throughout the dancers’ lifespan. With timely communication between the dancer, their educators and healthcare team, the dancer can receive the appropriate care, optimizing their recovery and return to dance.
Linda Bluestein, M.D. has over 20 years of experience caring for patients and treats a full range of issues causing chronic pain. She received her Medical Degree (M.D.) from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine and completed her internship and anesthesiology residency at the prestigious Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Bluestein is a leading expert in treating patients with connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (EDS) and related disorders. She also treats the fatigue, memory dysfunction, sleep disturbances, and mood disorders that commonly co-exist with these painful conditions. Dr. Bluestein places a strong emphasis on the therapeutic relationship between the physician and patient and is certified by the American Board of Anesthesiologists.
As a former ballet dancer, Dr. Bluestein has a unique interest in treating dancers, gymnasts, circus performers and other people at increased risk of hypermobility disorders. Her love of dance and genuine understanding of these athletes is paramount to accurately diagnosing and effectively treating these individuals.
In addition to her pain clinic practice, Dr. Bluestein volunteers much of her time to several non-profit organizations working to empower patients and improve the interactions between patients and healthcare professionals. Dr. Bluestein is an integral member of the Board of Directors of EDS Wellness, Inc., serving as both the Director of Education and Director of the Medical Advisory Board. As a Medical Consultant for EDS Wisconsin, Inc., Dr. Bluestein regularly volunteers her time conducting educational programming for EDS patients and their families. Through her work with the international non-profit EDS Awareness, Dr. Bluestein helped create the first online EDS CME (Continuing Medical Education) program and she continues to serve as the program’s Physician Director.
Dr. Bluestein still loves to dance and recently received her Zumba Fitness certification. She lives in Wausau, Wisconsin with her husband and their bernedoodle and has two sons.