Children who have joints that are much more flexible than typical children’s joints are referred to as having hypermobility syndrome. Sometimes this condition is known as being “double-jointed,” as they can move their joints beyond the typical range of motion.
In rare instances, this can be a symptom of a connective-tissue disorder such as Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Most often, as a child matures, the hypermobility symptoms disappear.
Hypermobility is very common in school-age children. As many as 40% of teenage girls and about 10% of teenage boys have joints that are hyper-flexible.
Hypermobility Causes and Symptoms
No one knows exactly what causes children to have hypermobility, although genetics likely play a role. Adults who had hypermobility issues or syndromes associated with hypermobility are more likely to have children with similar issues.
Some children with hypermobility have no unusual symptoms at all, while other children may suffer pain or swelling in their joints or muscles. These symptoms tend to worsen during the night. Pain can be chronic (ongoing) or acute (occurring suddenly). Children with hypermobility are also more prone to sprains and soft-tissue injuries, especially when they exercise or play sports.
As children mature, they become less flexible – causing their symptoms to naturally disappear. In rare instances, hypermobility may persist through adulthood.
Diagnosis of Hypermobility Syndrome
Awareness of hypermobility syndrome among health professionals is growing, but the condition is easily missed.
A physical exam is required for diagnosing hypermobility. The physician is looking at the range of motion of your child’s joints: Do your child’s elbow and knee joints bend beyond normal when straightening the joint? Can they touch their forearm with their thumb?
Conditions that need to be ruled out if your child has joint and muscle pains include juvenile idiopathic arthritis, fibromyalgia, Marfan syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and ankylosing spondylitis (a condition that can cause the vertebrae to fuse together).
Hypermobility Syndrome Treatment in Austin and Cedar Park, TX
Treatment of hypermobility syndrome is aimed at increasing the muscle strength needed to support the hypermobile joints. Mild cases often don’t need treatment. In addition to strengthening exercises, over-the-counter pain medicine may be recommended to relieve pain, particularly in the evening, which is when the pain tends to be the most severe.
If the pain is overwhelming, speak to your doctor about other ways to reduce the discomfort.