Hypermobility Syndrome is a benign condition where joints can move further than their intended range of motion due to loose and weak ligaments. This syndrome is more common in children and teens and is found in more boys than girls. Teenagers experience less pain than younger children as they are stronger and are more responsible about respecting the limitations of their bodies. Hypermobility syndrome is genetic and is more often found in children of Asian descent when compared to Caucasian children while African American children suffer from this the least of these three ethnicities.
In addition to experiencing a greater range of movements of the joints, those who are affected by hypermobility syndrome may experience joint or muscle pain and slight swelling in the afternoon, evening, or after physical activity. Pain is often felt in muscles in the legs or large joints, but any joint may be affected. Pain is not always directly correlated to the looseness of the joints as some children will feel more pain than other children that have joints with similar capabilities.
These symptoms may also make injuries more like to occur. Dislocations, sprains, and secondary osteoarthritis may occur in those suffering from this condition. Scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine, may also be found in affected patients.
A physician will use several mobility tests to help him or her to diagnose a patient with hypermobility syndrome. One test will be to determine how far back the little fingers may be extended. A doctor will also check to see if the thumb can be bent to meet the forearm. It will also need to be observed whether the knees bow backwards when the patient is standing or if the arm will bend further than a straight line when extended. Lastly, the doctor will want to see if the patient can put his or her hands flat on the floor when bending at the waist, making sure to keep the knees completely straight. The test results are then evaluated using Beighton scores. One point is given for every joint that is considered to be hypermobile, with a maximum of nine. Hypermobility syndrome is diagnosed if the patient has been experiencing pain for at least three months in four different joints and has a Beighton score of at least four. Further tests may also be done to rule out other medical conditions like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfon syndrome, or inflammatory conditions like juvenile arthritis.
Some simple treatments involve taking over the counter medications used to treat pain or swelling. Keeping the sensitivity of the joints in mind, appropriate exercises may be performed to strengthen muscles and increase stability. In addition, physical therapy will help to not only strengthen joints, but to also teach the patient had to avoid hyperextension. Restricting activity and analgesics may also be beneficial. Those with hypermobility should try to avoid sitting cross-legged, should make sure to wear shoes that have proper arch supports, and should try to slightly bend the knees when standing. Children should never try to show off their amazing abilities to friends and should try not to crack their joints. This condition also tends to improve with age as the individual becomes stronger and less flexible.