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Hypermobility

Joint hypermobility is a condition when a person’s joints have an abnormally wide range of motion. People with joint hypermobility are very flexible and can move their limbs into postures that others find impossible. Some individuals refer to joint hypermobility as having “loose joints” or being “double-jointed.”

Symptoms of Joint Hypermobility

The majority of the patients don’t face any hassle with this syndrome, and some professionals like musicians, gymnastics, or dancers enjoy and benefit from this high flexibility.

However, not everyone cherishes these benefits, and some even face unpleasant symptoms, including;

  • Muscles and joints pain
  • Neck and back pain
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Joints clicking
  • Joints dislocation
  • Fatigue
  • Injuries like sprains
  • Digestive issues

If you or any family member is suffering from these symptoms, contact a doctor to discuss the symptoms and get them treated.

A man with hypermobility holding his knee

What Causes Joint Hypermobility

In most cases, hypermobile joints don’t have any underlying medical problems, and the only symptom is hypermobile joints. This is known as benign hypermobility syndrome. It can be caused by:

  • Bone formation or joint socket.
  • Muscle tone or strength
  • Lack of proprioception (the capacity to detect how far you’re stretching)
  • Family history of hypermobility

Some people with hypermobile joints also experience joint stiffness or discomfort. It is known as joint hypermobility syndrome.

Hypermobile joints rarely arise as a result of an underlying medical problem. These include the following.

  • Down syndrome: a developmental disorder
  • Cleidocranial dysostosis: an inherited bone development disorder
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: an inherited elasticity condition
  • Marfan syndrome: a connective tissue disease.
  • Morquio syndrome: a hereditary metabolic disease.

Diagnosis for Joint Hypermobility

To diagnose if you are suffering from Joint Hypermobility, your doctor will test your joints to assess their range of movement. You may need to carry some tests like blood tests and X-Rays. Also, rheumatoid arthritis is ruled out to exclude the conditions with joint pains.

Sometimes, if the patient reports other symptoms in addition to hypermobility joints, your general physician may even check for further assessments. For this, Brighton Criteria is used to determine whether you are suffering from joint hypermobility syndrome.

The Beighton Score

The Beighton score consists of series of five tests. With the result of these tests, you can add up to nine points.

The scores work as follows;

  • You get one point if you can place your palm on the ground while standing your legs straight
  • One point if you can bend your every elbow backwards
  • One point if you can turn your every knee backward
  • One point if your thumb touches your forearm when bent backwards
  • One point if you’re each bit finger bends backwards beyond 90 degrees.

If you get a score of four or more, then you have joint hypermobility.

The Beighton Criteria

There are two Beighton Criteria;

  1. Minor Criteria
  2. Major Criteria

Your score determines the criteria under which you lie. But it would help if you also considered the other symptoms like joint pains or dislocation.

Minor Criteria

Minor criteria come as following conditions;

  • Having Beighton score of one to three, or zero to three for the patients over 50 years of age.
  • Having joint pains or back pains for more than three months
  • Partial or complete dislocation of more than one joint
  • Having three or more soft tissue injuries
  • Having different skin, such as thin or stretchy skin
  • Having symptoms related to the eyes

As the Beighton criteria states, you may be diagnosed with JHS if you have;

  • One Major two Minor Criteria
  • Two Major Criteria
  • Two Minor Criteria and a close relative, such as parents who are diagnosed with JHS, or
  • Four Minor Criteria

Major Criteria

The Major criteria states as following;

  • Having a Beighton score of four or more
  • Having joint pains for more than three months in four or more joints

Treatment for Joint Hypermobility

Treatment is not required if joint hypermobility is not causing any problems. However, if you have joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS), you may need therapy and assistance.

Listed below are some standard JHS therapies.

  1. Self-Care

You can assist yourself if you have JHS. These are:

  • Keeping a healthy weight and a healthy diet will assist increase joint strength and decrease joint strain.
  • Sleep hygiene strategies such as setting consistent bedtimes, relaxing before bed, and keeping a comfortable sleeping environment
  • Keep moving, but stick to “low-impact” workouts like swimming or cycling to avoid joint strain.
  • wearing supportive ankle footwear
  • Using a hot water bottle or heat-rub cream to relieve joint pain
  • If you overstretch a joint, rest it, elevate it (on cushions, for example), and apply ice wrapped in a moist towel.
  1. Physiotherapy or Exercise

Physiotherapy can assist hypermobile joints in several ways. It may help to:

  • Numb
  • Strengthen and tone muscles
  • Reposition
  • Enhance your body’s posture and movement sensibility (proprioception)
  • Individual joint repositioning

Having a physiotherapist who understands JHS is beneficial, as some therapies might exacerbate symptoms. Physiotherapy procedures vary widely. You may be recommended to do strength and balance exercises, as well as stretching and pacing exercises. Pacing requires balancing activity and rest. In other words, please don’t overdo it or push yourself over your boundaries.

  1. Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy helps you handle daily challenges caused by JHS. It may include teaching you different methods of doing a task. An occupational therapist can help you reduce joint strain when using a computer or getting ready. Some jobs may be made simpler by equipment. Special grips can assist in enhancing handwriting and ease pen gripping.

An occupational therapist can also help you modify your house for better mobility. If climbing stairs is difficult, installing special hold rails may be advised.

Conclusion

Finally, while hypermobility joint syndrome may not bother some people, it may be a nuisance for others, particularly if they have other symptoms. This article can help you determine the cause, symptoms, treatment, and diagnostic criteria for JHS.

Consult your specialist for further queries.

References

  1. Minis G. hyoermobile joints. Healthline. Sept 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/hypermobile-joints
  2. Joint hypermobility. NHS. May 2021. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/muscle-bone-and-joints/conditions/joint-hypermobility#diagnosing-joint-hypermobility

 

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