What Are Signs Of Hypermobility?

What Are Signs Of Hypermobility?

While joint flexibility can be impressive, it is commonly confused with hypermobility. Hypermobile individuals have quite a range of motion in their joints but with a set of challenges and potential health implications. In this blog, I will cover what hypermobility is and how to recognize its presence in yourself or others.

What Are Common Signs Of Hypermobility?

Recognizing hypermobility is the first step toward understanding what to do for hypermobility treatment. FI has listed some of the common signs of hypermobility that you may recognize:

  • Joint Hyperextension

Your joints can bend beyond the normal range of motion, which most refer to as “double-jointedness, especially in the knees, elbows, fingers, and thumbs.

  • Joint Pain

Chronic joint pain, especially in large joints like the knees, hips, and shoulders, is a common symptom of hypermobility. This is most often a result of the laxity in the ligaments which is important in the stability of the joints. The fact that the Bendys’ ligaments don’t contract like the Normies, is one of the reasons why the hypermobile population typically has a weaker proprioception (knowledge of where you are in space at a given time). That is the reason why typically the ‘stop’ point of a joint in the hypermobile population is beyond what it should be, causing pain.

  • Joint Instability

Thumb being pressed showing hyperextensionHypermobility can lead to joint instability, making it easier for joints to dislocate or subluxate (partially dislocate). Again, ligament laxity and weaker proprioception play a role here. I have written a blog on hypermobility treatment that addresses this issue a bit more which I am including at the bottom of this blog.

  • Soft Skin

Most often the skin is softer because hypermobility is a connective tissue condition where the collagen makeup is different. This impacts all soft tissue including the skin. In my practice, every hypermobile patient I see has soft and sensitive skin. This means that when using sports tape, it is best to use the sensitive skin tape and remove it with an adhesive remover vs pulling it off!

  • Easy Bruising

Connective tissue includes blood vessels and because it is altered in hypermobility, it is much easier for the blood vessels to rupture and cause bruising.

  • Muscle Weakness

We typically test muscle strength by muscle testing and I know typically the claim is that muscles are weaker in the hypermobile population. I do question the lack of ‘strength’ being the muscles being weaker though. We know that the ligaments are lax so how is a muscle going to show off its strength if its connections are weak? I do see that in my practice which is fully catered to my hypermobile patients with the specific hypermobile protocols that we do, I see strength in the muscle performance. The key is to ‘frame’ the movements differently given what the hypermobile body has to offer.

  • Fatigue

The body spends quite a bit of energy trying to stabilize the joints and balance the body. With hypermobility, this most likely becomes the reason behind chronic fatigue.

  • Delayed Motor Development In Children

It seems that children with hypermobility have delays in developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling, and walking. Hypermobility is a connective tissue disorder where the collagen makeup is different. This can be from some types of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome where the genes are identified or Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder and other types of connective tissue conditions.

  • Recurrent Joint Dislocations Or Subluxations

Frequent joint dislocations or subluxations, especially in the shoulders, knees, and fingers, are typical in hypermobile individuals. This is a common problem with a rather easy fix that requires you to be mindful of movements. We all need to understand that ‘bubble-wrapping’ our treasured belongings when moving is a smart thing to do regardless of hypermobility.

  • Joint Clicking Or Popping

Noisy joints, such as clicking or popping sounds, can occur due to joint laxity. I don’t worry about the clicking or popping since the noise is simply the release of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide from the joint fluid. If the clicking and popping has pain, then we should look into it.

  • Flat Feet Or High Arches

Hypermobility affects all joints including the feet and its many little bones. In most cases, I see flat feet happen when standing; that is when the ligaments connecting the little bones relax and the arch collapses. In cases of high arches, I see over-compensation when walking and I only see high arches when standing to avoid pain.

  • Gastrointestinal Issues

You may experience GI symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The motility issue is from dysautonomia and also from the laxity of connective tissue. It can also be from the weak postural stabilizers and pelvic floor dysfunction. I have written blogs on hypermobility and pelvic floor dysfunction that I will include below.

  • Cardiovascular Symptoms

Mitral valve prolapse or aortic root dilatation is common especially a specific subtype of a hypermobility condition called cEDS. It is good to have a good heart health lifestyle in general anyway! Just because there is an increased chance does not mean that you are doomed so live life the right way, the preventative way- and get checked regularly depending on where you are at with your heart health.

What Are Less Common Signs Of Hypermobility?

The following list of less common signs of hypermobility will still allow you to recognize hypermobility so you can better understand the why behind your symptoms and ‘bubble wrap’ your movement safer and better while addressing the non-joint related symptoms with a clinician and health care provider who understands hypermobility.

  • Autonomic Dysfunction

In my practice, I see many patients with different levels of dysautonomia, which is a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. This is part of your nervous system in charge of things in your body that you don’t have much control over, like digestive movements, blood vessel constriction/dilation, and heart beat. Symptoms of dysautonomia can include POTS which can be feeling dizzy when getting up to even fainting, lightheadedness, palpitations, and temperature dysregulation.

Managing stress plays a big role in the intensity and frequency of the presentations here so taking the right electrolytes makes a difference. You can take a look at my favorite products on my website.

  • Chronic Pain Syndromes

While joint pain is common in hypermobility, some individuals may also experience widespread chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). In my practice, I have seen a few CRPS patients who were not hypermobile and I have never seen a hypermobile person with CRPS. Fibromyalgia is a whole different blog and what my view on that is!

  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction

Hypermobility impacts all joints including the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. This in part is related to cranio-cervical instability, and neck and breathing issues that exist. I see plenty of patients with TMJ issues who are not hypermobile and while Craniocervical instability is rather unique to connective tissue disorders, instability of the head over the neck is seen in plenty of non-hypermobile patients.

  • Neurological Symptoms

Your nerves are soft tissue that does not like to be compressed or stretched. They are capable of both but don’t like them over a long time or to the extreme. Because hypermobility is a connective tissue disorder, and the joints, muscles, and all tissues including the internal organs are more ‘loose’, they can put pressure (from let’s say muscles lagging and buckling over the nerve passing through) or overly stretch because the joints are loose. Other presentations end up putting undue stress on the nerves causing issues with pain and nerve symptoms.

  • Psychological Symptoms

Chronic pain and physical limitations associated with hypermobility can contribute to psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or mood disorders. This can also be another presentation of dysautonomia.

  • Dental Issues

Some hypermobile individuals have thin enamel over their teeth which makes them get dental cavities more often. Many are also mouth breathers which dries up their saliva which protects our teeth. Because hypermobility is a connective tissue disorder and our gums are connective tissue, it is easy to see the gums receding causing issues with oral health.

  • Vision Problems

Certain eye conditions, such as myopia (nearsightedness), astigmatism, or retinal detachment, because our eyes are also connective tissue.

  • Skin Disorders

While soft skin is a common sign of hypermobility, stretch marks and scar tissue are seen in some hypermobile individuals.

  • Endocrine Dysfunction

There seems to be a relationship between hypermobility, adrenal insufficiency, and thyroid dysfunction. Is it because autoimmunity is common among the hypermobile population and the common type of autoimmunity is Hashimotos? Adrenal glands are in charge of fight or flight and stress management so it seems to not be surprising that it is commonly seen among the hypermobile population.

The correlation between the two seems to exist but how they are related is still not clear. Perhaps when we understand why ADHD exists and what causes it, we can connect the dots here!

If you have hypermobility, it is so important to make sure you see clinicians and health care providers who know and treat hypermobility. For instance in my world which is physical medicine, my treatment for the Bendy population is very much customized to the group; while I see mostly hypermobile patients, I know how to avoid injuries while trying to treat the painful joints and weak posture. The agenda has to go beyond pain to prevent injuries which has its unique protocol.

If you are hypermobile or think you may be hypermobile, contact me and if you are in another state or country, contact me here for telehealth coaching related to your joint instability, postural imbalance, and pelvic floor dysfunction stemming from that.

Dr. Shakib

Recommended Reading:

Hypermobility And Pain Relief

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction In The HyperMobile Population