What is joint hypermobility syndrome?
Joint hypermobility (JH) is a condition involving the connective tissue in the body in which joints move beyond the “normal” range of movement. This can be genetic or acquired. It can involve one joint, or multiple joints and can present with or without manifestations of other bodily systems. Because connective tissue is found throughout our bodies, it can cause symptoms outside of just joint pain.
What are the symptoms?
While many of these symptoms are seen in various disorders, common symptoms seen in those with hypermobility include:
While this is not an all-inclusive list, these are oftentimes the symptoms that patients present with. The more advanced the patient’s condition is, the more of these they will have. These symptoms are, however also seen in many other health conditions. Other signs that you or someone you know may be hypermobile include:
How does one get diagnosed?
Because of the complexity of this condition, and its overlap in symptoms with many other disorders, joint hypermobility, in particular, hypermobility spectrum disorder and Ehler’s Danlos syndrome can be difficult for many practitioners to diagnose. The average time that it takes for someone with joint hypermobility to be diagnosed is 30 years. Many doctors are not adequately taught in medical school how to screen or diagnose this condition. While looking at joint mobility by using the Beighton Score is helpful, there is much more that goes into a diagnosis.
Part of obtaining a proper and accurate diagnosis means ruling out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. This is why Dr. Schroeder may ask you to complete certain specific bloodwork or imaging studies. A clinical diagnosis given in the office often provides patients with a sense of validation when it comes to their symptoms, but can also be a helpful tool when navigating future doctor’s visits or when applying for disability or work/school accommodations.
If a more serious type of Ehler’s danlos syndrome is suspected, or if a patient wishes to know for absolute certainty whether or not they have Ehler’s Danlos, then molecular testing must be done to confirm or deny the presence of genetic markers. There is one type of EDS that is NOT testable yet via molecular testing and can only be diagnosed clinically. This is called hEDS (hypermobile form of EDS) and the evaluation of this is part your initial evaluation with Dr. Schroeder.
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