Joint hypermobility syndrome
Hypermobility means your joints are more flexible than other people's (you may think of yourself as being double jointed). When this causes pain, it might be joint hypermobility syndrome.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if you:
- often get pain or stiffness in your joints or muscles
- keep getting sprains and strains
- keep dislocating your joints (joints "pop out")
- have poor balance or co-ordination
- have thin, stretchy skin
- have digestive problems like diarrhoea or constipation
These can be symptoms of joint hypermobility syndrome.
What happens at your GP appointment
Your GP will usually test the flexibility of your joints using the Beighton score.
They may also refer you for a blood test or X-ray to help rule out any other conditions like arthritis.
Testing hypermobility – Beighton score
4 points = hypermobility likely
4 points and pain in 4 or more joints for at least 3 months = joint hypermobility syndrome likely
Doctors will also use more detailed Beighton criteria to help their diagnosis.
There's no cure for joint hypermobility syndrome.
The main treatment is improving muscle strength and fitness so your joints are protected.
Ask a GP to refer you to a physiotherapist or occupational therapist for specialist advice.
You can also book them privately.
They can help you:
- reduce pain and the risk of dislocations
- improve muscle strength and fitness
- improve posture and balance
Treating joint pain
Speak to a pharmacist about the best treatment for you.
A GP may be able to prescribe stronger painkillers.
If you're in severe pain, ask a GP to refer you to a pain clinic to help you learn how to cope better with pain.
To help ease joint pain and stiffness, you can:
- have warm baths
- use hot water bottles
- use heat-rub cream
If you have joint hypermobility syndrome, there are things you can do to improve joint and muscle strength, and reduce strain.
- gentle low-impact exercise like swimming or cycling (not doing any exercise can make your symptoms worse)
- maintain a healthy weight
- buy good, firm shoes
- if you have flat feet, use special insoles (support arches) in shoes
- do not do high-impact exercise
- do not overexercise
- do not grip things too tightly
- do not overextend your joints just because you can
Children's joint care
Joint hypermobility syndrome usually runs in families and cannot be prevented.
Usually, the joints are loose and stretchy because the tissues that should make them stronger and support them are weak.
The weakness is because the collagen that strengthens the tissues is different from other people's.
Most experts agree that joint hypermobility syndrome is part of a spectrum of hypermobility disorders, which includes Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Some people with hypermobility spectrum disorders do not have symptoms that affect their joints.