What is Joint Hypermobility Syndrome?

We’ve all seen those people who can touch their forearm with their thumb or bend their fingers right back. People often call this ‘double jointed’. But what it is, in fact, is hypermobility. For residents in Baulkham Hills and the Hills Area, understanding hypermobility and its potential complications is crucial.

What is Hypermobility?

Hypermobility can affect any joint in the body and is caused by abnormal collagen content in the fibres of the ligaments, which causes an increase in elasticity. It is generally an inherited trait, and is more frequent in women than men. Where there is hypermobility in multiple joints, accompanied by joint and muscle pain, and sometimes fatigue, the condition is referred to as Joint Hypermobility Syndrome.

There is no prevention or cure available, although generally as we age joints and ligaments become less flexible and mobile, so the condition can reduce. Knee, ankle and shoulder joints are most commonly affected, and individuals with hypermobility are at a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Joint Hypermobility Syndrome is often present with other syndromes such as Down or Marfan Syndromes.

The Beighton Score

Hypermobility is diagnosed using the Beighton Score, a simple assessment to determine potential hypermobility. Here is how to check if you might have this condition.

For every one of the things below you can do, give yourself one point. Can you:

  • Bend your knee backwards
  • Bend an elbow backwards
  • Bend a thumb backwards onto your forearm
  • Bend a little finger back more than 90 degrees
  • Put your hands flat on the floor with your knees straight

Scoring 4 points indicates potential hypermobility, while persistent joint or muscle pain may suggest Joint Hypermobility Syndrome.

Symptoms

Often there are no symptoms – other than your ability to move your body in ways others can’t. However, people with Hypermobility are at a much higher risk of injury such as sprains, strains, subluxation (where a joint slips out slightly) and dislocation (where a joint slips out completely). Recovery from an injury can also take longer where Hypermobility is present due to the reduced amount of collagen in the ligament fibres.

People who suffer from generalised Hypermobility might also find they have trouble with balance and co-ordination. And of course, this compounds the tendency towards sprains and strains.

Hypermobility can also affect the arches of your feet, causing them to flatten.

Treatment

Possibly the most important aspect of managing and treating Hypermobility is preventative. Maintaining strength in the muscles around the joints will reduce the likelihood of injury.

If pain is present, there are a number of things that can be done:

Take anti-inflammatories to ensure the tissues around the joints remain healthy
Warm baths and heat packs will reduce pain
Use heat-rub creams like arnica to reduce any pain and swelling
Regular chiropractic treatment to ensure proper alignment, and keep the muscles strong
Visit a Podiatrist to ensure your foot arches are supported correctly
Regular massage to improve blood flow in the muscles
Strengthening and balancing exercises – it is very important to keep the muscles strong, particularly the core, and those around the affected joint. This will help avoid injury.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do

  • Low impact exercise – yoga is great, but care should be taken not to overextend joints
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Take care choosing shoes – if you have flat feet consider orthotics
  • Make regular visits to the Chiropractor to ensure your joints are as healthy as possible
  • Have a Podiatrist check out your feet to ensure your arches are up to the task, and consider orthotics if they are not

Don’t

  • Do high impact exercise
  • Overexercise
  • Be tempted to overextend your joints as a party trick or whilst doing yoga

For a thorough assessment and tailored treatment plan, residents suspecting hypermobility or Joint Hypermobility Syndrome in Baulkham Hills can call our clinic on 02 9639 7337. Our experienced chiropractors are ready to provide personalised care for your joint health.

Malek, S., Reinhold, E.J. & Pearce, G.S. The Beighton Score as a measure of generalised joint hypermobility. Rheumatol Int 41, 1707–1716 (2021).

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