One of the most common questions asked during one of our paediatric consultants would be “Is my child hypermobile?” “My kid has very flexible joints. Does that mean my kid will have flat feet?” “Will joint hypermobility impact my child’s development?”

 

What is Joint Hyper-mobility?  

Joint hyper-mobility is when a joint moves beyond the normal range with little effort, for their age. 

Most children and adolescents are very flexible and bendy compared to people of old age, with flexibility decreasing as they get older. It is common for children to have joint hypermobility and it also frequently runs in families.  

In fact, some ballet dancers, gymnasts, and swimmers are able to achieve their athletic performance due to joint hypermobility. 

Joint hyper-mobility can be characterised into 2 categories:  

  1. Localised hypermobility: involvement of one – two joints with no symptoms 
  2. Generalised joint hypermobility: involvement of multiple joints in the body. It is usually hereditary, and is related to collagen laxity. Symptoms presented are usually more complex.  

 

Signs and Symptoms: 

Joint hypermobility sits on a broad spectrum.  

At one end of the spectrum, children who are hypermobile are often asymptomatic, and do not need support or help with everyday activities. Some children may even benefit from flexible joints in certain sporting activities.

At the other end of the spectrum is when people experience pain and joint dislocation. This pattern of symptoms is sometimes classified as generalised joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS).  

Some of the most common symptoms of JHS include: 

  • Joint instability 
  • Recurrent / chronic pain in the knee, feet and / or ankles 
  • Recurrent sprains / dislocation (complete movement out of the joint) 
  • Chronic muscle fatigue, wearing out faster with physical activity
  • Easy bruising in the skin
  • Hypersensitivity 
  • Parental concerns such as flat feet, ankle “rolling in”

People at this end of the spectrum are more likely to have injuries (i.e. sprain or strain), especially during sports and this can limit their ability to participate in daily activities such as school / sporting activities. 

Early Diagnosis of Joint Hyper-Mobility.

Early diagnosis is crucial to ensure patient’s health and development. It can also help with management and slow the progression of the condition. Health professionals are able to assess how hypermobile a child is / if your child has joint hypermobility and can help in managing the condition. 

Joint hypermobility is often treated with a proper and comprehensive rehabilitation program of physical strengthening and reconditioning. Through physical fitness, people with hypermobility are able to protect their joints and minimise injury as they strengthen their muscular structure surrounding the joint. 

 

 So, let me know what you think! 

 

 

References

  1. The Ehlers-Danlos Society: https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/what-is-hsd/
  2. A Framework for the Classification of Joint Hypermobility and Related Condition: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28145606/
  3. Assessing Joint hypermobility: https://www.ehlers-danlos.com/assessing-joint-hypermobility/