Benign joint hypermobility syndrome is a condition in which a “looseness” of the joints occurs. This may also be referred to as benign type Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. This condition may be associated with nighttime awakening, daytime pain, and discomfort after exercise. This condition is categorized as a connective tissue disorder.
Signs and Symptoms
This condition typically presents with mild swelling or joint pain at night, in the afternoon, or after an activity or exercise. The lower extremities, such as the thigh or calf muscles, are most likely to experience pain. Any joint can be involved, but the elbows, knees, or other large joints are most commonly affected.
Causes and Incidence
This condition is thought to be inherited. Women tend to have more laxity than men. Asian, African, and Middle Eastern cultures tend to have more joint laxity. This condition seems to be associated with the ratio of collagen subtypes or abnormality in collagen. Mutations within the fibrillin gene have also been discovered within families with this disorder. According to MAJ Micheal R. Simpson, DO, MC, of the US Army Health Clinic in Darmstadt, Germany, a study showed that about 66 percent of school children who complained of arthralgia without a known cause had a prevalence of hypermobility.
Evaluation and diagnosis does not require any special testing or equipment. The patient’s range of motion will be tested to determine if their joints are looser than they should be. The patient’s feet will also be checked because many children with this condition also have flat feet.
Laboratory testing, such as blood or urine testing, may be done to rule out other possible conditions, such as inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. In rare cases x-rays may have to be performed.
Treatment is individualized for each patient. The patient’s severity of discomfort or pain, their overall health, presence of other symptoms, and medical history will dictate treatment. Therapy to help strengthen joints and muscles, and reduce the excessive flexibility may be performed. Proprioceptive, also referred to as balancing, exercises may also be beneficial in decreasing pain.
Patients should avoid being overweight and should avoid living a sedentary lifestyle because both of these can worsen benign joint hypermobility syndrome. Affected joints may need to be braced, splinted, or taped during activities.
Medications may be beneficial for some patients. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin may help to decrease pain or discomfort after activities.
MAJ Micheal R. Simpson, DO, MC, USA. (2006). Benign Joint Mobility Syndrome: Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Management. Retrieved on October 15, 2010 from The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association: https://www.jaoa.org/cgi/content/full/106/9/531
WebMD. (2010). Arthritis and Benign Hypermobility Joint Syndrome. Retrieved on October 15, 2010 from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/benign-hypermobility-joint-syndrome
Cleveland Clinic Health System. (2010). Benign Hypermobility Joint Syndrome. Retrieved on October 15, 2010 from Cleveland Clinic Health System: https://www.cchs.net/health/health-info/docs/1700/1722.asp?index=3971