Joint hyper-mobility is a condition where joints move beyond their expected range of motion. It is usually inherited from your parents (thanks mum and dad!). Hyper-mobility is quite common in the general population, it is estimated that 10-15% of normal children have hyper-mobile joints, sometimes referred to as “loose” joints or “double jointed”. Hyper-mobility tends to lessen with age (as we get more stiff), and in many people joint hyper-mobility won’t cause any other symptoms. In some athletes such as gymnastics and dancers having hyper-mobile joints can be advantageous.
However, for a small percentage of the population, hyper-mobility can be disadvantageous. Hyper-mobility can be associated with joint and ligament injuries, pain, fatigue and other symptoms. Hyper-mobility is a symptom of more serious conditions known as Heritable Disorders of Connective Tissue (HDCT). One of the most common is Joint Hyper-mobility Syndrome (JHS). In HDCT’s the body’s connective tissue proteins (collagen) are thought to be affected.
If the collagen is weaker than it should be the tissues will be more fragile. This means the joints become lax as they have looser and more stretchy connective tissue holding them together (ligaments and tendons). As a result of this, hyper-mobile people can injure soft tissues around the joints more easily as their joints twist, over extend, sublux and in some cases completely dislocate.
The structural defects in the connective tissue allow for micro-traumas to occur repeatedly without healing properly. In an individual with hyper-mobility syndrome, an injury can cause immediate pain as well as long-term pain, which can be widespread throughout the body. As connective tissue is found in all areas of the body, the skin, gastrointestinal system, autonomic nervous system and the bladder are common areas which are also affected and cause long term problems for these individuals.
A few other symptoms of hyper-mobility syndrome can include:
– pain and stiffness in the joints and muscles
– joints that dislocate easily
– recurrent injuries
– digestive problems
– dizziness and fainting
– thin or stretchy skin
The presenting symptoms of widespread pain and fatigue can sometimes be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. It is essential the right diagnosis is made so the correct interventions and treatment can be incorporated through physiotherapy, occupational therapy and pain management. If you’re unsure whether you have any of the following symptoms be sure to get a check up with your doctor so you can commence a proper management plan, or be sure to tell your Bend + Mend Physio so they can assess and treat you appropriately.