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Hypermobile joints

  • Definition
    • Hypermobile joints are joints that move beyond the normal range with little effort. Joints most commonly affected are the elbows, wrists, fingers, and knees.

  • Alternative Names
    • Joint hypermobility; Loose joints; Hypermobility syndrome

  • Considerations
    • Children's joints are often more flexible than adults' joints. But children with hypermobile joints can flex and extend their joints beyond what is considered normal. The movement is done without too much force and without discomfort.

      Thick bands of tissue called ligaments help hold joints together and keep them from moving too much or too far. In children with hypermobility syndrome, those ligaments are loose or weak. This may lead to:

      • Arthritis, which may develop over time
      • Dislocated joints, which is a separation of two bones where they meet at a joint
      • Sprains and strains

      Children with hypermobile joints also often have flat feet.

  • Causes
  • Home Care
    • There is no specific care for this condition. People with hypermobile joints have an increased risk for joint dislocation and other problems.

      Extra care may be needed to protect the joints. Ask your health care provider for recommendations.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call your provider if:

      • A joint suddenly appears misshapen
      • An arm or leg suddenly does not move properly
      • Pain occurs when moving a joint
      • The ability to move a joint suddenly changes or decreases
  • What to Expect at Your Office Visit
    • Hypermobile joints often occur with other symptoms that, taken together, define a specific syndrome or condition. A diagnosis is based on a family history, medical history, and a complete physical exam. The exam includes a close look at your muscles and bones.

      The provider will ask about the symptoms, including:

      • When did you first notice the problem?
      • Is it getting worse or more noticeable?
      • Are there other symptoms, such as swelling or redness around the joint?
      • Is there any history of joint dislocation, difficulty walking, or difficulty using the arms?

      Further tests may be done.

  • References
    • Deeney VF, Arnold J, Moreland MS, Ward WT, Davix HW. Orthopedics. In: Zitelli BJ, McIntire SC, Nowalk AJ, eds. Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 21.

      Krakow D. Heritable diseases of connective tissue. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Harris ED Jr., Gabriel SE, MacInnes IB, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 105.