Hypermobility

At Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, our experts tailor the treatment of joint hypermobility to the needs of each patient. Our experienced team of specialists in orthopedics, physical therapy and rheumatology works closely with patients to minimize pain, prevent injury and help stabilize joint function.

Why Choose Gillette?

  • Gillette is the Upper Midwest’s only nationally ranked Best Children’s Hospital for pediatric orthopedics and one of the nation’s top providers of pediatric outpatient rehabilitation therapies.
  • Our interdisciplinary team offers comprehensive support for related complications, including issues with physical growth and joint pain.
  • We believe that people who have complex medical conditions deserve facilities and services designed specifically for their needs.
  • Our experts collaborate to provide comprehensive treatment plans.

Definition

Hypermobility means that a person’s joints move beyond their normal range of motion. People who have this condition might experience it in one or more joints and might say they are “double jointed.” When hypermobility is diagnosed in four or more joints and a person experiences pain in numerous joints, the condition is known as benign joint hypermobility syndrome or joint hypermobility syndrome.


Hypermobility Causes and Symptoms

Because genes are responsible for the production of collagen (a protein important for joint, tendon and ligament function) they also determine a person’s natural flexibility. In rare cases, hypermobility is related to inherited disorders that cause abnormal connective tissue, such as Ehler Danlos syndrome (EDS) and Marfan syndrome.

Some common symptoms experienced by people who have joint hypermobility include:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Increased susceptibility to injuries, sprains and strains
  • Flat feet and overpronation
  • Frequent tripping or falling
  • Possible delayed gross motor skills
  • Abnormal gait

Hypermobility is often discovered while a patient is being seen for another condition, such as:

  • Joint pain or fatigue
  • Deformities such as flat feet, bunions, clubfeet, dislocations or developmental dysplasia of the hip
  • Swollen joints
  • Injuries such as recurrent sprains or dislocations
  • Developmental delay
  • Clumsiness
  • Gait abnormalities

Hypermobility Incidence and Risk Factors

Joint hypermobility is usually hereditary. It occurs more frequently in children than in adults. Between 10 and 15 percent of children have joint hypermobility. Females and people who have Asian backgrounds are more likely to have the condition.


Hypermobility Tests, Treatments and Services

Gillette specialists use the Beighton scale to determine if a person has joint hypermobility. The Beighton scale consists of the following tests, with each test carrying a score of one point. If a patient has a score of four or more, they probably have joint hypermobility.

  • Can you put your hands flat on the floor and keep your knees straight?
  • Can you bend your right elbow backwards?
  • Can you bend your left elbow backwards?
  • Can you bend your right knee backwards?
  • Can you bend your left knee backwards?
  • Can you bend your right thumb to the front of your forearm?
  • Can you bend your left thumb to the front of your forearm?
  • Can you bend your right little finger 90 degrees, toward the back of your hand?
  • Can you bend your left little finger 90 degrees, toward the back of your hand?

We work closely with patients and families to create a customized treatment plan for every person who has joint hypermobility. When there are few to no symptoms, treatment isn’t necessary. When symptoms are more severe, however, our experts might recommend the following treatments.

Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy

Specialists in physical therapy and occupational therapy might conduct an assessment of gross motor skills. In addition, we educate patients and families on joint protection, such as avoiding extreme range of motion and stretching safely. We might also recommend:

  • Exercises that improve balance and coordination
  • Exercises that reduce pain and stabilize joints
  • Customized footwear and orthotics
  • Options for maintaining an active lifestyle
  • Ways to safely participate in sports activities
  • Posture instruction
  • Aquatic (pool) therapy
  • Strategies for decreasing pain when writing
  • Hand splints or bracing
  • Coping strategies for fatigue

Psychology

Our psychologists can work with patients and families to develop strategies for managing pain caused by joint hypermobility. This might include relaxation techniques or coping strategies for anxiety.

Therapeutic Recreation

Our therapeutic recreation specialists can help find appropriate recreational activities available in a patient’s community and can help create lifelong fitness plans.

Nutrition

Our nutritionists work closely with patients and families to develop a weight management plan if needed. Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce strain on weight-bearing joints.

Medicines

We emphasize fitness and a healthy lifestyle as the primary treatment for hypermobility. In special circumstances, however, people who have moderate pain might benefit from pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

Other collaborative services related to joint hypermobility care include:

For more information about the care we offer at Gillette, search Conditions and Care.