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Hypermobile joints

 

Definition

Hypermobile joints are joints that move beyond the normal range with little effort. Joints most commonly affected are the elbows, wrists, fingers, and knees.

Alternative Names

Joint hypermobility; Loose joints

Common Causes

Hypermobile joints occur in some very rare medical conditions, but can also occur in otherwise healthy and normal children. Conditions associated with hypermobile joints include:

Home Care

There is no specific care for this condition. In many cases, persons with hypermobile joints have an increased risk for joint dislocation and other problems. Extra care may be needed to protect the joints. Ask your health care provider for specific recommendations.

Call your health care provider if

Call your health care provider if:

  • A joint suddenly appears misshapen
  • An arm or leg suddenly does not move properly
  • Pain occurs when moving a joint
  • The ability to move a joint suddenly changes or decreases
What to expect at your health care provider's office

Hypermobile joints often accompany other symptoms that, taken together, define a specific syndrome or condition. A diagnosis is based on a family history, medical history, and a complete physical exam.

Medical history questions that help document hypermobile joints in detail may include:

  • When did you first notice the problem?
  • Is it getting worse or more noticeable?
  • Are there any other symptoms, such as swelling or redness around the joint?
  • Is there any history of joint dislocation, difficulty walking, or difficulty using the arms?

The physical exam will include detailed examination of the muscles and skeleton. The joints may be moved to determine the direction and extent of mobility.

Further tests will depend on what condition is suspected.

Considerations

Children generally tend to be more flexible than adults, but those with hypermobile joints can flexing and extend their joints beyond what's considered normal. The movement is done without undue force and without discomfort.

Children with hypermobile joints also frequently have flat feet.


Review Date: 11/30/2008
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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