About 14% of the individuals with Down syndrome have increased mobility of the cervical spine at the level of the first and second vertebrae, a condition known as atlantoaxial instability (AAI). Most are asymptomatic, but about 10% of those with AAI have symptoms of spinal cord compression (neck pain, torticollis, change in gait, loss of upper body strength, or changes in bowel/bladder functioning). Its important for nurses familiar with the individual to report any of these changes to the primary health care provider as soon as they occur, in order to prevent further complications. Nurses can also guide the adult into exercise and sports options that are safer for persons with AAI. For example, Special Olympics, Inc. bars athletes with AAI from competing in equestrian sports, diving, alpine skiing, snowboarding, and other sports that increase the risk for spinal cord compression.
Other orthopedic abnormalities
associated with Down syndrome in adults include:
Its important for
degenerative arthritis to be diagnosed promptly and treated immediately, to
limit joint deterioration and preserve function. Because regular physical activity
is so important in weight management for adults with Down syndrome, joint pain
that limits the individuals mobility can have serious health implications.