Benign joint hypermobility syndrome, thought to be a connective tissue disorder, is the occurrence of pain in multiple joints in hypermobile individuals in the absence of systemic rheumatologic disease.
The entity is different from the disorders that cause local joint hypermobility and generalized joint laxity, such as Marfan syndrome and Ehlers–Danlos syndrome.
Hypermobility not associated with systemic disease occurs in 4% to 13% of the people.
Hypermobility may occur in several different connective tissue disorders including Marfan syndrome, EDS, and osteogenesis imperfecta, Down syndrome, homocystinuria and hyperlysinemia.
Benign joint hypermobility syndrome has a strong genetic component with an autosomal dominant pattern.
Why do some people have symptoms with hypermobile joints. Four factors have been suggested –
- Shape of the ends of the bones resulting in joint wear and tear
- Impaired proprioreception
- Fatigue of surrounding tissues
Pain in a hypermobile joint which may affect one or multiple joints is the most common symptom. This can occur at any age are often exacerbated by physical activity.
Though it may occur in any joint but knee and ankle are most commonly involved.
Other symptoms that may occur are are joint stiffness, myalgia, muscle cramps, and nonjoint limb pain.
There might be a history of double-jointedness or recurrent dislocations in the family.
Easy bruising, ligament or tendon rupture, congenital hip dysplasia, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction may be associated findings.
On physical examination, there might be pain in joints on manipulation.
Other associated findings that might be present are [Suggesting some connective tissue disorder]
- Pes planus
- Genu valgum
- Marfanoid habitus
- Varicose veins
- Rectal or uterine prolapse
- Thin skin
People with hypermobility syndrome may develop other conditions caused by their unstable joints. These conditions include frequent sprains, tendinitis, or bursitis when doing activities that would not affect the normal individual.
Diagnosis of benign joint hypermobility syndrome is one of exclusion. Other causes like inflammatory, infectious, and autoimmune causes should be ruled out . Routine work up including a complete blood cell count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, rheumatoid factor, antinuclear antibody test, serum complement levels, and serum immunoglobulin levels should be done.
By rule all of these are within normal limits in benign joint hypermobility syndrome. Aspiration of joint in cases who have joint effusion shows a noninflammatory pattern from meniscal and cartilage irritation.
Determining the Beighton score which is a measure of generalized joint laxity is essential for diagnosis making. A Beighton score of 4 or more points is considered indicative of generalized joint laxity. Brighton criteria which is based on Beighton score helps to establish diagnosis of benign joint hypermobility syndrome and also helps to distinguish it from other connective tissue disorders.
Brighton Criteria For Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome
- A Beighton score of 4/9 or greater (either currently or historically)
- Arthralgia for longer than 3 months in 4 or more joints
- A Beighton score of 1, 2 or 3/9 (0, 1, 2 or 3 if aged 50+)
- Arthralgia (> 3 months) in one to three joints or back pain (> 3 months), spondylosis, spondylolysis/spondylolisthesis.
- Dislocation/subluxation in more than one joint, or in one joint on more than one occasion.
- Soft tissue rheumatism. > 3 lesions (e.g. epicondylitis, tenosynovitis, bursitis).
- Marfanoid habitus (tall, slim, span/height ratio >1.03, upper: lower segment ratio less than 0.89, arachnodactyly [positive Steinberg/wrist signs].
- Abnormal skin: striae, hyperextensibility, thin skin, papyraceous scarring.
- Eye signs: drooping eyelids or myopia or antimongoloid slant.
- Varicose veins or hernia or uterine/rectal prolapse.
The diagnois of benign joint hypermobility syndrome is made if
Two major criteria are present
There is one major and two minor criteria present
Four minor criteria are present
Treatment of Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome
Many individuals with joint hypermobility syndrome improve in adulthood. Treatments are individualized based on the manifestations.
The treatment of benign joint hypermobility syndrome consists of
- Lifestyle modification
- Change In Exercise Pattern
- Protection of jointsor
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used for pain control. Restraining from aggravating activities can relieve the symptoms.
In long term, modification of activities that induce symptoms is part of the treatment. Vigorous and repetitive activities should be curtailed.
Patients need to be taught about the condition they have.. Overtraining, poor pacing, too maniy performances or athletic competitions, and focusing on joint flexibility rather than stability may all increase joint pain and the risk of injury.
They should be avoided. But it cannot be possible in all cases [for example athletes] and alternatives can be explored.
It is important that the individual with hypermobility remain extremely fit – even more so than the average individual – to prevent recurrent injuries. Regular exercise and physical therapy or hydrotherapy can reduce symptoms of hypermobility, because strong muscles help to stabilise joints.
Strengthening program to provide muscular stability and stabilization to the joint may be beneficial. Stretching techniques that are targeted to isolate tight muscles without stressing the surrounding joints may reduce symptoms.
Supportive splints along with appropriate footwear protect the joint, and supportive joint taping can improve joint proprioception.
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