Hypermobility

What is hypermobility?

Hypermobility describes joints that stretch further than normal. It is often known as being double jointed and some refer to it as hyperlaxity. For example, some hypermobile people can bend their thumbs backwards to their wrists or bend their knee joints backwards. This could affect a single joint but usually multiple joints are involved. 
 
The cause of hypermobility is generally not known, and the condition may run in families. In many individuals there is a defect in Type I collagen (the most abundant collagen in the body) or other connective tissue abnormality that will result in weakened ligaments and tendons. Most people have no symptoms and they carry on their life normally. However, some may complain of muscle strain/pain, joint stiffness, back pain, dislocation of joints and pain around the knee and ankle joint is not uncommon.
 
If hypermobility causes symptoms we call this joint hypermobility syndrome and there are diagnostic features that may help in establishing the condition (Beighton score). 
 
Joint hypermobility syndrome is a benign condition and shares features with other conditions such as Marfan’s syndrome, Ehlers Danlos syndrome and Osteogenesis Imperfecta. These conditions need to be distinguished and identified since they could have other manifestation that required to be addressed separately.
 
 

Management

Unfortunately there is no cure for this condition and the mainstay of therapy depends on treating pain and improving muscle strength. Physiotherapy, occupational therapy, orthoses and low impact exercises such as Pilates or Tai Chi are usually recommended.
 
 

Other Information

There are national organisations that may support the patients:

 
Ehlers Danlos Support Group 
P.O Box 337, Aldershot, Surrey, GU15 6WZ  
 
Hypermobility Syndrome Association 
49 Orchard Crescent, Oreston, Plymouth, PL9 7NF