Hypermobility Syndrome  By drdoc on-line

The hypermobility syndrome is a fairly frequent finding in the young, especially female patient complaining of aches and pains. The clinical diagnosis is made on examination, with the finding of extremely mobile joints as a consequence of joint laxity.

The hypermobility syndrome may be assessed using the Beighton score - who you may all be interested to hear is a geneticist at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, from whence I come.

The syndrome of hypermobility is characterized by lax ligaments and people are to use the lay term "double jointed". They are able to bend their thumbs back to touch their forearms, are able to bend the little finger back more than 90 degrees and have hyper-extensible elbows and knees.
They also can bend over and can touch their hands flat on the ground.
They frequently have tall parents usually the father and often have a high arched palate.
They often are excellent gymnasts and are good at ballet.

Test Description Score Net score
1 Little fingers bends 90 degrees 1 each side 2
2 Thumbs can bend back to touch forarm 1 each side 2
3 Wrist extension more than 90 degrees 1 each side 2
4 Elbow extends more than 10 degrees 1 each side 2
5 Knees extend more than 10 degrees each side 1 each side 2
6 Can bend spine to reach floor with palms flat on ground 1 1
Total  .   11

The condition is benign , and there is no cardiac or eye problems or body habitus problem as found in the Marfan syndrome, and no eye or skin problem as in Ehlers danlos.

The patients however often ache and are more susceptible to osteoarthritis in later life. Reconstructive surgery is not a great problem, but it is important to do regular exercise to maintain good muscle tone.


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drdoc on-line
Dr David Gotlieb
Cape Town
May 1997

Revised 2001