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What is hypermobility syndrome and how can it be treated?

People with hypermobility syndrome are commonly referred to as being double-jointed. This is not an accurate name, as people with this syndrome don’t have two joints where most of us have one. Joints with hypermobility simply have a large range of movement. They are supple, so can be moved into positions that other joints would not be able to.

Causes of hypermobility syndrome

Hypermobility is often hereditary. A root cause for it is believed to be genetically determined changes to a protein called collagen. This is found throughout the body in ligaments and skin. If collagen is weaker than it should be, tissues will be fragile. This can make a person’s joints loose enabling them to extend beyond the usual boundaries.

Painful symptoms of hypermobility

Most people with hypermobility syndrome live without painful symptoms, but some need treatment to alleviate joint or back pain, and to correct dislocated joints that have come out of their natural position. Collectively, these symptoms are referred to as joint hypermobility syndrome.

Living with the syndrome

Long term pain and fatigue are often associated with the joint hypermobility syndrome. Treatments to lessen the pain include exercise and a course of physiotherapy. There are many different healthcare professionals in the NHS who can diagnose and treat the syndrome. These include GPs, rheumatologists and physiotherapists.

Risks of the syndrome

Living with the syndrome can also mean managing the associated risks. The nature of this type of syndrome means that suffers are constantly at risk of injuries like soft tissue injuries and dislocations. Suffers therefore have to treat lots of short-term injuries which can get in the way of the long-term treatments like exercise and physiotherapy.

Final word

There are no clear statistics for the amount of people with hypermobility syndrome in the UK, but estimates suggest that up to 30 percent of the population may be affected. It affects more women than men. This is possibly due to female hormones which increase flexibility. It is also found in children. Some will live with the syndrome for life, but in others it dissipates as their body matures and the joints stiffen in adulthood.

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