Joint Hypermobility

Joint hypermobility (JH) is common and often referred to as being ‘double jointed’. People with JH have very flexible joints and most have no symptoms or problems from their joints.

Some people with JH do have other symptoms associated with their JH such as muscle and joint pains and some level of fatigue. Clicking of joints is common in JH and is not a cause for concern. A sensation that the joint comes out of alignment (joint subluxation) is common and joint dislocation may also occur more rarely. JH is a spectrum with many people having no symptoms but a few having several problems and the new terminology of ‘hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD) has replaced older terms such as EDS type 3 or joint hyper-mobility syndrome.

Some people with joint hypermobility (HSD) may experience other problems (such as hernias, gut dysmotility, POTS) that fulfil criteria for a particular classification of joint hypermobility called hypermobile EDS. This classification is to improve research into hypermobility and does not make a difference to the approach to general hypermobility treatment.

Many people need only reassurance and encouragement to carry on normal activities when JH is present. Where treatment is needed to help with joint pain, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and non-medical pain management are beneficial. The aims of treatment for JH and HSD are to improve current symptoms, as well as avoiding de-conditioning, muscle weakness and persistent pain. Associated non-joint symptoms may need referral to relevant medical specialities.

There is often confusion regarding terminology in hypermobility as joint hypermobility can be one of many features in some extremely rare, complex disorders such as classical or vascular Ehlers Danlos syndromes and Marfans. It is important to recognise that most people with hypermobile joints do not have these rare, serious diseases. Here is a patient information leaflet from the National Ehlers Danlos National Diagnostic Service which explains this further.