Hypermobility is a condition causing joints to be very flexible.
Sometimes flexible joints can cause pain, stiffness and regularly sprain or dislocate. Very flexible joints, when coupled with these symptoms, is called joint hypermobility syndrome.
People with joint hypermobility often refer to themselves as being ‘double jointed’.
Despite this, hypermobility is not caused by having two joints in place of one. Usually, the joints are loose because the ligaments that should support them are weak. This condition can be hereditary and most commonly affects children and young people, with symptoms usually improving with age.
Take your child to see a GP if they have flexible joints alongside any of these symptoms:
- Tiredness, even after rest
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Frequent sprains and strains
- Poor balance or co-ordination
- Bladder or bowel problems
- Thin and stretchy skin
This may indicate joint hypermobility syndrome.
The main treatment is to improve muscle strength and fitness so that joints are better protected; a GP may refer your child to a physiotherapist or podiatrist for specialist advice.
If the pain is severe and not helped by over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol, a GP might be able to prescribe stronger painkillers.
Joint and muscle strength can be improved by low impact exercise, such as swimming. Maintaining a healthy weight will also help. Not doing any exercise can actually make symptoms of joint hypermobility syndrome worse.
Those affected by hypermobility should avoid:
- Overextending their joints
- Doing repetitive exercises or physical activities without regular breaks