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Hypermobility Joint Syndrome | Diagnosis and Treatment

  • Category: News & Events
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  • Written By: NSPC Team

Have you ever noticed how some people can twist and contort their bodies into all kinds of interesting positions, almost as if they were made of rubber? In medical terms, we would say they have benign Hypermobility Joint Syndrome (HJS). In layman’s terms, we might just say they are incredibly flexible.

People with HJS are easily diagnosed by a series of simple visual tests that include:

  • The ability to move the wrist and thumb downward so the thumb touches the forearm.
  • The ability to extend the little fingers back beyond 90 degrees.
  • Knees that are abnormally bowed backward when standing and viewed from the side.
  • The ability to fully extend the arms so that they bow slightly inward.
  • The ability to lay the palms flat on the floor when bending at the waist with straight knees.

HJS occurs more frequently in children and young adults. For unknown reasons, it is more prevalent in girls and in those of Asian descent. Most often, HJS causes no medical issue and can actually be an advantage to certain activities, such as yoga, swimming, gymnastics, and dance.

The medical implication of HJS is that in certain situations, it can result in instability of a peripheral joint or the spine, which can lead to pain. Although it can affect any joint, HJS usually impacts large joints, such as the knees and shoulders. Instability in the spine region can most often result in pain and inflammation in the neck, low back, and sacroiliac joint.

There may be slight swelling in the affected joints, especially later in the day or after exercise or activity. Ironically, however, exercise to strengthen the surrounding muscles is one of the best ways to overcome any discomfort from the syndrome. Sometimes braces or taping can help prevent overstretching these joints during activity or exercise.

If pain persists, an evaluation by a specialist is recommended. A thorough medical exam may include lab tests to rule out other conditions, such an auto-inflammatory or auto-immune conditions.

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