What Is Hypermobility
Hypermobility Syndromes are a family of related genetically-based conditions which differ in the degree of difference of formation.
The human body’s durability is due to connective tissue proteins such as collagen which make it tough. When differently formed from normal, the joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments are more fragile, which results in joint laxity with hypermobility and a vulnerability to the effects of injury.
People with joint hypermobility have an unusually large range of movement in some or all of their joints, making them particularly supple and able to move their limbs into positions that others find impossible.
Many people with hypermobile joints do not have any problems and do not need treatment. However, there are symptoms associated with joint hypermobility, including joint pain, back pain, dislocated joints – when the joint comes out if its correct position, soft tissue injuries, such as tenosynovitis (inflammation of the protective sheath around a tendon)
If hypermobility causes these types of symptoms it is often called joint hypermobility syndrome.
Further infomration on hypermobility including information on support groups can be found on the Hypermobility Syndrome Association website. Our specialists are advisors to this service.
What Causes Hypermobility?
Often, hypermobility is hereditary and there is a tendency for the condition to run in families due to certain genes that are inherited that predispose to the development of hypermobile joints.
One of the main causes of joint hypermobility is thought to be changes to a type of protein called collagen.
Collagen is found throughout the body – in the skin and in ligaments. If the collagen is weaker than it should be, the tissues in the body will be fragile. This can make the ligaments and joints particularly loose and stretchy. As a result, the joints can extend further than usual.
Occasionally, joint hypermobility is part of a rare and more serious condition, such as:
- Osteogenesis Imperfecta – a condition that affects the bones
- Marfan syndrome – a condition that affects the blood vessels, eyes and skeleton
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome – a condition that causes stretchy skin and the skin to bruise easily
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptoms include pain in:
- the knees
Sufferers may notice they have an ability to place the palms of the hands on the floor with the knees fully extended, hyperextension of the knee or elbow beyond 10 degrees and the ability to touch the thumb to the forearm.
Often, because the joints are capable of excessive motion in people with joint hypermobility syndrome, they are more susceptible to injury and there is an increased risk of dislocation and sprains.
Scoliosis (curvature of the spine) occurs more frequently in people with hypermobile joints.
Symptoms tend to subside with time because joint hypermobility tends to decrease with aging as the body becomes naturally less flexible.