Two of my boys have hypermobile joints. You know the ones that can turn their elbows inside out, or stick out their shoulder blades at completely stomach churning angles. One of mine can do that.
Littlest can turn his feet to direct opposites of each other.
In simple terms, hypermobility is the ability to move our joints further than the normally expected range of movement. It can range from very mobile to some of us with almost no mobility at all (like me).
Many hypermobile jointed people are described as “double jointed.”
The different levels can made a big difference to quality of life. My boys are lucky enough that theirs is easily spotted, yet allows them to still lead an active and quality life. They can do things like stick their shoulder blades out at wierd angles that make me cringe, to folding their thumbs back so that they they are in line with their arms.
How common is it?
It’s fairly common at some level in our population. For some people, it might just be elbows and fingers and for others it may just be fingers that make it difficult to hold a pencil. Yet more people might find it difficult to do some everyday things, and for others it might even be a benefit. Imagine if you are an athlete whose edge could be that your hip joints give you that little more flexibility for each step and propels you further forward.
I watched a TV programme that Cheryl Cole was on where she demonstrated her hypermobile elbows, so it can affect anyone.
Quite often children seem to “grow out” of HMS as it can often seem to reduce as they get older.
My youngest has learned that it doesn’t take much to dislocate his thumb. It folds back on itself, right to his arm, but a knock easily dislocates it. That is incredibly painful for him and although it pops back in place easily, it takes a good couple of weeks for the pain to subside. I suspect that occurs as although his joint over extends easily and he doesn’t really realise that it can go too far. I’m grateful his healed up fine, as HMS injuries can be difficult to recover from.
He struggles to hold his pencils or pens correctly and although there are pens and pencils for people with HMS, in reality, it’s difficult for them to keep hold of. Other children tend to want to try them or they are easily broken. Children often don’t want to be different from their peers and might just not use them anyway.
We’ve got round that for lengthy writing exercises by having a laptop available for him to use, but again, he has to be told to use it or he’ll just potter on with struggling to hold his pencil and not manage to write very much. It takes so much effort to just put pen and pencil to paper, that the quality and quantity of output can be quite poor and the condition unrecognised as an issue by teachers.
Some HMS affected people can experience pain from their joints, and it can be to the extent that it is misdiagnosed or interfere with daily living. Thankfully we have not got to that point and hopefully we never will, but it is always good to know what the future potential can be.
It does pay to have HMS diagnosed. I hadn’t realised what it was until my eldest had a thumb injury and the physiotherapist told me he had it, and she watched my youngest writing and told me he also suffered from it in his fingers and thumbs.
Without the diagnosis, youngest wouldn’t have his school laptop and we wouldn’t know to watch out for hand injuries.
If they had less obvious symptoms I wouldn’t have bothered. I just thought eldest and his shoulder blades were a bit like a party trick. Diagnosis also helps to pinpoint later on if there are some more serious effects and it helped us to understand that it wasn’t much of a blow that dislocated both eldest and littlests thumbs on different occasions.
There is a scoring system, the “Beighton Score” which grades the body to identify possible hypermobility in some parts of the body, but it is usually best diagnosed by a doctors examination and they can help suggest things to help if it is causing problems in life.
Where do I get help?
Find out more about HMS by visiting the following: