Hypermobility

Last Updated: August 16 2022

Hypermobility is the ability to move a joint beyond the normal range of motion. It can be limited to individual joints or occur more generally throughout the body. In most cases hypermobility is benign, but unstable joints are prone to injuries, dislocations, and subluxations which can cause significant pain.

What is hypermobility?

Hypermobility is the ability to move one or more joints beyond the normal range of motion. In most cases, hypermobility is benign, but it can be accompanied by pain, soft-tissue trauma, and other features of Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD). Hypermobility is also present in some connective tissue disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS).

What are the main signs and symptoms of hypermobility?

Excessive joint range of motion is the primary sign of hypermobility, but common reasons for seeking medical support include pain, injury, and joint instability. Although the cause is unclear, hypermobility is also associated with increased prevalence of anxiety, fatigue, immune dysfunction, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal problems, and gynecological complications.[1]

How is hypermobility diagnosed?

The Beighton Hypermobility Score is used to quantify hypermobility and includes a nine-point scoring system. Conditions such as EDS and HSD have specific criteria with additional features.

What are some of the main medical treatments for hypermobility?

Physical therapy is often prescribed to rehabilitate injured joints, and it may improve joint control in hypermobile patients.[2] Although more research is needed, prolotherapy injections in hypermobile joints may lead to reductions in pain and joint range.[3]

Have any supplements been studied for hypermobility?

There are no supplements which reduce hypermobility directly. However, some supplements may support goals related to the condition, such as protein for fueling resistance-training adaptations, or melatonin for improving sleep to support healing.

How could diet affect high hypermobility?

Although deficiencies in some nutrients (e.g., vitamin C) can result in compromised connective tissue, there is no single best diet for hypermobile individuals. More often, diets are tailored on an individual level to navigate conditions or sensitivities which may occur alongside hypermobility, such as gastrointestinal dysfunction.

Are there any other treatments for hypermobility?

Low impact exercise options such as swimming are popular, and research suggests that appropriately tailored resistance training may improve joint control, strengthen muscles and tendons, and reduce pain in hypermobile joints.[4] Symptom management varies between individuals, but may involve braces for affected joints, avoidance of high-impact jobs and hobbies, or scheduling around fatigue.[5]

What causes hypermobility?

Genetics play a role in hypermobility, and family history influences an individual’s risk.[6] Hypermobility is more common among women, as are many of the associated conditions.[7][8]

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