Have you watched a contortionist in action? You know, those people that can tie their bodies into knots? Do they have bones? Yes, they do have bones, but they also have a genetic condition called Hypermobility which is the ability to overextend limbs beyond the normal range. Children typically are born with Hypermobility, making them very flexible. As a child grows, their extra flexibility should start to diminish. Some Hypermobility in adults is not uncommon and in some cases can be entertaining at parties. However; for some, it can develop into a painful and debilitating condition known as Hypermobility Syndrome.
The genetic disorder called Hypermobility affects the joints and bones allowing them to go beyond the normal range. This disorder has also been named double-jointed or loosed boned. The disorder usually doesn't cause a problem for those that have it. However; there are some that develop what is called Joint Hypermobility Syndrome or JHS; these people can have a different outcome. Joint Hypermobility Syndrome or JHS can bring with it an array of symptoms that can cause extreme pain and struggles in daily activities that can threaten a persons independence and self-confidence, this could lead to depression. People with JHS are more prone to dislocations and injury and have to take more precautions when living everyday life.
The symptoms of Joint Hypermobility Syndrome can affect different parts of the body; if the pain is one of the symptoms, it will usually be in the fingers, knees, hips, elbows, wrist, and shoulders. The symptoms of JHS include:
People with JHS do not always have every symptom or even all at once; some may develop over time. Hypermobility sufferers may also be very uncoordinated which can be embarrassing and dangerous. When a person has JHS, there is a chance they can develop another syndrome called EDS or Ehlers-Danios Syndrome.
Ehlers-Danios Syndrome or EDS can be on its own or accompany JHS Ehlers-Danios Syndrome affects the connective tissue and muscles. With EDS the muscles and tissue will be weak and stretchy. If both JHS and EDS are present, it is usually called EDS-H Type which stands for Ehlers-Danios Syndrome-Hypermobility Type. Some of the symptoms of EDS include:
These symptoms can occur when the muscles that take food through the digestive system weaken and no longer perform normally. Not everyone with Hypermobility Syndrome will develop EDS.
People with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome might encounter a situation where the nervous system might develop abnormalities. These abnormalities can lead to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or POTS. This disorder attacks the nervous system and functions that are taken for granted, like our heartbeat. Symptoms that come with POTS are
A person with POTS might experience a quick rise in pulse rate after standing for a few minutes. The blood pressure can also drop to low with POTS when a person sits for too long in one position. Because of the weakened tissues in the body, other problems might develop which include incontinence, varicose veins, and stretch marks.
Several medical professionals can diagnose and treat JHS; these professionals include Family Practice Physicians, Rheumatologist, Internist and Orthopedist to name a few. No blood test can diagnose the disorder. The complete diagnosis is made through physical examination of the affected joints and tissue. A physician will measure the degree of flexibility by using the Beighton Score. The Beighton Score is a nine-point system that measures flexibility and joint laxity or looseness. This score can determine the presence of Hypermobility. The higher the score, the more laxity, and Hypermobility are present. The Beighton score does not determine if Joint Hypermobility Syndrome is a factor. This determination is made by a series of questions covering joint pain, soft tissue injuries, and dislocations. If there has been pain in the joint for three or more months; diagnosis of JHS is likely.
For some people, living with JHS never presents issues or problems, they may develop arthritis later in life. But for those that have symptoms of this disorder and depending on the severity of those symptoms life can be a challenge. People with the condition of JHS live with chronic pain. They never know in the morning if they will be hurting that day until they get up to move around. Joint Hypermobility Syndrome can cause a person to be clumsy and uncoordinated which can be dangerous since they are at a higher risk of falling and injury or dislocating joints or tearing or spraining tissue around the joints. Most people who suffer from JHS symptoms look fine on the outside but are in a lot of pain and discomfort as they try to move forward in their daily lives.
Treatment for those individuals that are affected by the symptoms of this disorder can vary. With such a wide array of symptoms, each patient will be treated differently depending on what problems they encounter. Patients usually do well with medication for joint pain and inflammation. Patients can also benefit from a modified fitness routine designed to prevent injury to the joints. Home remedies can include home exercise and Tylenol as needed. Rehabilitation may be required in the event of an injury.
People with JHS do not always have long-term side effects, however; as time passes JHS can lead to cartilage degeneration and arthritis. Hypermobile joints can also be at risk for injury to the joint and ligaments. Since the disorder is inherited there is nothing that can be done to prevent it. And unfortunately, there is no cure. However; when symptoms arise avoiding trauma can prevent injuries to the affected joints.
Though JHS symptoms can be unpredictable, there are still things that can be done to help live a better life despite the disorder. Staying active is important to keep joints moving freely. If sleep is a problem create a haven that is inviting so that rest can be achieved. Joining a support group will help when times are tough and maintaining a good weight and staying with medications that the doctor prescribed. Living a healthy life, getting rest and avoiding things where injuries can occur is the best way to take care of yourself.
Keeping a positive attitude despite having a chronic condition can be a challenge. However; it can also be a big plus in treating this disorder. Stress can only add fire to the flame. Stress causes muscles to tighten; it causes inflammation, chest pain and anxiety. So, keeping positive and stress-free can help avoid added pain. Finding a good support group with people that understand what you are dealing with will help with your mental health and keep your heart happy and your mind stress-free and more focused on the positive things in life.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.