Joint hypermobility - Symptoms 

Symptoms of joint hypermobility 

Many people with hypermobile joints have few or no problems from their condition.

Being hypermobile does not necessarily mean you will have pain or difficulty. If you have symptoms, it is likely you have joint hypermobility syndrome.

Joint hypermobility syndrome can cause:

  • joint pains, particularly after physical work or exercise – due to overstretching of the joint capsule (the structure that surrounds the joint) and ligaments (tough bands that link two bones together at a joint)
  • muscle aches and pains because your muscles have to work harder with supple joints
  • back pain and neck pain 
  • a tendency to bruise easily
  • pain that gets worse through the day and better at night, after you have rested
  • fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  • night pains in children

Joint hypermobility syndrome can be caused by changes in your collagen (a protein in connective tissue). You may also have other related conditions or symptoms, as collagen is found throughout your body.

If you have joint hypermobility that is part of another condition, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (stretchy skin and easy bruising), you may also have additional symptoms. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type III, also called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome hypermobility type, is the same as joint hypermobility syndrome.

See joint hypermobility – causes for more information about the role of collagen and other conditions that can cause hypermobility.

Digestive system symptoms

Joint hypermobility syndrome can cause symptoms that affect your digestive system. A series of muscles squeeze food through your digestive system.

In joint hypermobility syndrome, these muscles may be weaker than they should be and this leads to food progressing more slowly though your digestive system. This can cause a range of symptoms including:

  • stomach acid leaking from your stomach to your gullet, causing symptoms such as heartburn (a burning sensation or discomfort in the chest)
  • your stomach having difficulty emptying its contents into the small bowel, which can cause bloating and nausea (gastroparesis)
  • an overgrowth of bacteria in your bowels – this may cause symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating and cramps
  • not being able to pass stools (faeces) as often as you usually do, or having to strain more than usual (constipation)
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a disorder that affects the digestive system, causing tummy pain, diarrhoea and constipation

Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) 

Joint hypermobility syndrome can cause abnormalities in part of your nervous system that controls the bodily functions you do not actively think about, such as the beating of your heart. This is called your autonomic nervous system.

These abnormalities can cause problems when you stand up or sit in the same position for a while. Your blood pressure can drop to low levels, making you feel sick, dizzy and sweaty. You may also faint.

In some people, these abnormalities can lead to postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). POTS causes your pulse rate to increase rapidly within 10 minutes of standing up. You may also experience:

  • dizziness or fainting
  • headaches
  • tummy upsets
  • sweating
  • a sensation of anxiety
  • purple puffy fingers and feet
  • a pounding or fluttering heart beat (heart palpitations)

Further symptoms

People with joint hypermobility syndrome may have other related conditions and further symptoms including:

  • stress incontinence – a type of urinary incontinence that occurs because the pelvic floor muscles are too weak to prevent accidental urination
  • hernias – an internal part of the body, such as an organ, pushes through a weakness in the muscle or surrounding tissue wall
  • varicose veins – swollen and enlarged veins, usually blue or dark purple
  • flat feet – where the inner part of your feet (the arch) is not raised off the ground when you stand
  • drooping eyelids
  • thin or stretchy skin
  • bluish tinge to the white part of the eyes (sclerae)
  • a sense of anxiety – feelings of unease or worry  

Injuries

If you have joint hypermobility syndrome, you may be at increased risk of injuring your joints – for example, by partially or completely dislocating them (when the joint comes out of its correct position). Joints, particularly the shoulder or knee-cap, can dislocate if overstretched.

A dislocated joint will need to be moved back into place, usually in hospital, in a procedure called a reduction. Some people with joint hypermobility syndrome may be able to put their joints back into place themselves. However, you should still seek medical attention if you have dislocated a joint.

You may also be at increased risk of soft tissue injuries such as:

  • tenosynovitis – inflammation (swelling) of the protective sheath around a tendon (the tough, rubbery cords that link muscles to bones)
  • bursitis – inflammation of a bursa (a small, fluid-filled sac found over the joints and between tendons and bones)
  • epicondylitis (tennis elbow) – a condition that affects the outside of the elbow, causing swelling and pain

Page last reviewed: 10/09/2012

Next review due: 10/09/2014

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The 21 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

MelCox said on 01 February 2014

Hello I am a 22 year old woman and I have been suffering from Postural Orthistatic Tachycardia Syndrome for over nine years now. I have recently been diagnosed with Gastroparesis and have been told by multiple doctors throughout my life that I have hypermoble joints. Reading this article has surprised me because I had no idea that they were all connected. What led me to this page was me googling "postrural Orthistatic tachycardia syndrome and bursitis". I searched this because I have recently been having issues with my knees swelling from bursitis. I also have issues with neck pain, back pain, and overall joint pain. My POTSyndrom has prevented me from living a normal life. It really interests me and is kind of a relief to see that all my issues are connected. I thought I had a bunch of different unrelated things wrong with me and now I see that I just have one thing that is causing it all.

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estapes said on 06 December 2013

I am a 27 yr old female. I got told at the hospital around a year ago that I have hypermmobility syndrome, I went in because I was in so much pain I thought I had broken my knee. Everything is now starting to make a lot more sence as I have been in agonising pain often but with what felt like no real reason.
Over the last few months though I feel it is getting progressively worse. The pain only lasts for a few days but is beyond awful whilst it is happening. It is so frustrating because it consumes me, I struggle with work when I get the pains often in my sholders wrists or hands and I just want to talk about the pain but no one understands! And I feel like I sound bonkers as I know by the next day I will probably be fine!
I wanted to ask does anyone else find the pain is hightened when you are tired or stressed? And also is it set to just get worse and worse now or will it ever ease up? It makes me worry how very bad it will be when I'm 50 or so!
Also is there much point going to the doctors as it seems there is not a lot they can do?
It really worries me that this is going to get so much worse that I will struggle with everyday life soon. I am healthy in every other way but I feel like this is going to ruin my life. Is there anything that can help make me get rid of this for good, or do I just need to learn to live with it?

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Lisa dell said on 30 September 2013

I am a 29 year old female and for as long as I can remember I have suffered chronic pain in my joints and muscles as a child. I would wake every night with pain in legs or calfs was out down to growing pains. when I got to 13 and started my period my hips started playing up where they would go out of joint so I would have to bang them off a wall to click back in as my leg would be stuck in a position. I saw a consultant at fifteen where he put my hips clicking and locking to a ligament clicking off it, so I accepted that it stop me doing sports and can't wear certain shoes of boots as it causes me pain. I lived recognising the triggers. when I was 17 I feel pregnant pain worded moved to my pelvis and back each pregnancy got worse, even had a blood clot in private area after given birth with first child and third child major hamorigine in my womb. my hip also clocked badly as he passed through birth canal. as the years have gone by the worse I'm getting I suffer palpations anxiety every joint aches serverly and click and cracks and seizes up. I used to be able to do things with my body which I can now can barley walk. some days I get no sleep as wake up constantly seized up and pain. I'm getting depression as no rest bite. I also have 5 young children and can't suffer like this all the symptoms above are me. I be been under orthopaedics and they done an MRI scan and said I suffer with clicky hips which should have been spotted as a baby I getting desperate as no one seems to want to help, being pushed from pillar to post. doctor has put me on tramadol which takes the edge of but I'm like a zombie which I can't afford to be like with kids. just want someone to help me as it's becoming unbearable now :(

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arsenicandlace said on 02 July 2013

I'm a 26 year old female from Australia - and I've been suffering with this pain (generally only my lower back) for about 5 years. No one could tell me what it was - and I also was guilty of just thinking it would pass and dealing with it on my own. Only sometime in the last 6 months was I told by a pilates instructor/physio that I have hypermobility. It wasn't a proper consultion (she is a friend of a friend who saw me briefly because I couldn't even walk without wincing in pain one day). I also suffer from easy bruising, lethargy, stomach digestion issues (which is linked to social anxiety stemming from stomach noises, but has been a lot better in the last few years).

It usually occurs from sitting cross legged, or from arching backwards (belly pointing out) for lengths of time - even 2 minutes of being bent that way will give me excrutiating pain for 4-5 days. Now, I try to steer clear of sleeping or laying on my stomach because if I prop myself up on elbows to read or book/use my laptop - It causes the pain.

I strongly reccomend pilates stretches to help strengthen your core - this has helped me a lot.

I'm hoping to book in regular physio/pilates appointments from now on.

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tiff74 said on 08 May 2013

hi i have suffered like everyone on this site , since my teens but was only diagnosed tthis year, im not at pressant in a good way forgot what its like to have a relativly painfree day. i have had to give up a job that i loved with a passion, because i couldnt cope with this aweful thing and work kids a home, so i decided to concentrate on trying to cope with this first and hopfully one day be able to work again. im also fighting drs hospital and social because they see a healthy looking person ( the wonders of makeup). i live on pain relief and have become either immune or had reactions, so at pressant im on gabamentine high dose, i dont think ive stopped crying since being told what i have, partly relief at last to know im not mad, and the contant pain every day is so tiring.

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cvs83 said on 10 February 2013

Hi I'm 29 yrs old, I have 2 children, I have HMS I was diagnosed about 4 yrs ago, I have always suffered with pain for as long as I can remember, doctors also said it was growing pains. I'm very clumbsy also. But the main issue is pain.... I'm getting to a point where I'm very depressed I now have a crutch if you was to look at me I look okay in others eyes.Also the fatigue is taking over my life at the moment I'm sooo tired its getting me down. This condition does get worse you need to get some routine in your life this will help with overcoming depression. And go to the doctor if you are not happy get a second opinion. Write down your main symptoms and take them with you. Try to keep warm as getting cold appears to make the pain worse. I hope we can all get some peace and maybe a miracle pill. I'm off back to the doctors tomorrow i have a list and I'll not move until I get some help!! More needs to be said for this awful condition. I no I sound a moaner but I do try to keep positive it is hard when you have a million things to do and a constant battle with pain.

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debbzz15 said on 24 January 2013

this worth a read http://www.dynakids.org/Documents/hypermobility.pdf

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Spannarack said on 21 October 2012

I was only recently diagnosed with this, completely by accident really! I disolocated my knee at work, turning in a chair. Id been experiencing various aches and pains for as long as i can remember; particularly in my knees but had lost faith in the medical profession when one doc had told me i was basically a hyperchondriac (sorry if spelt wrong!). So anyway, I went to a different doctor who suspected that I had torn a cruciate from my work incident and he referred me to a surgeon. He did various tests and he diagnosed me with this condition (i'm still waiting for my MRI results in regards to my knee injury).

Only now reading this have i discovered how many issues in my health (both mental and physical) can be pinpointed to this condition.

I have had anxiety issues for approx 9 years now, but didn't want to go to the docs in fear of being labelled a fruit (i'm more educated on this subject now and by no means do i think people with mental issues 'fruits'). I've also suffered from extreme tiredness and abdominal cramping for approx 5 years and was given a leaflet on IBS from my doc and was told to 'read up'.

This condition is extremely dibilating and i would not wish it on anyone. I think people in general believe that i'm 'milking it' or making it up, but id like them to spend a year in my shoes and realise how awful it is.

Im glad there is now an answer to my problems and hopefully i can find a manage it now that i know there's no cure.

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homebored said on 21 August 2012

I got diagnosed with jhs 5 yrs ago this nov. im just wondering if others suffer in the same way i get accute attacks once a mnth or once every six. months an its neck to toe then im fine after aweek for a bit till the next attack an im normally bed ridin for atleast 24hrs an the normal painkillers they tell me to take ie ibroprofin do NOT work an i also hav to crack my joints to get a wee bit of releif is there any advice anyone can give me because i also think i hav firbromy sorry cant spelling just today ive got a weird new thing that started a couple of days ago pins an needles in both my aarms down to my hands is this normal for jhs thanks for reading

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Sunflowa said on 18 August 2012

Dear fellow sufferers - you are certainly not alone. there are two very good support groups out there (look them up on-line) - The Ehlers-Danlos Support group and the Hypermobility Syndrome Association. They both produce a huge amount of information and hold residential weekends on an annual or bi-annual basis. I would highly recommend attending one as you get to meet hundreds of other sufferers. When I attended it was the first time I felt 'human' and not a freak as all the doctors and consultants had made me feel up till then. I am 51 and was only diagnosed a few years ago after doing my own internet research and then insisting that my GP refer me to the hypermobility clinic in London. If you go to one of the residential weekends you will hear the same stories from each and every attendee. Took years to diagnose/no one believed them/looked upon as a time waster or head case..need I go on? My advice is to do as much research as you can, join the support groups, be firm with the medics and don't let them convince you that it's all in your head cos its not. It is a really debilitating condition for many of us and unfortunately we have to fight really hard to be believed and helped. There is help out there so don't give up.To Sam 33 - you asked if you can be registered disabled with it, well yes you can, I am, but I have had to fight every step of the way especially in the recent re-assessment for the change over from Incapacity to ESA. As with everything to do with this awful condition just don't give up the fight.
To Zweeble - I say that I agree with all you say and this is one of the crucial problems - unless you are lucky enough to see one of the few specialists of this condition you are up against a medical profession who thinks this condition is no more than a few aches and pains. GPs spend about 5mins reading about it during their training and reading info as above which really doesn't get anywhere near close to just how devastating it can be.

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pinkandblue said on 18 April 2012

its amazing to find out that other people have been through the same as me. i was passed around different specialists and the diagnosis came accidentaly when i stopped taking the contraceptive pill and started to walk again three months later. that was a year ago and since i have done hydro therapy, physio and now pilates and it has been hard work, quality of life is improved but i still have pain and cant do alot of things. i would love to hear from everyone with this! i will go on facebook and look up hypermobility syndrome uk if there is a group i will join it if not maybe start it! :)

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sully2012 said on 14 March 2012

Hi all. I also have JHS (not officially dx'd) and FMS. I was diagnosed with FMS in 2011 after many years of severe pain. I was suffering with Abdominal, back, hip and various other pains around my body. I have very "bendy" joints in my fingers, elbows and knees. I would never have guessed that the FMS was caused by JHS until I came across this page by accident. Its great to find out what caused the FMS but not so great to have this problem. I came across a book on Amazon that discusses both JHS and FMS, it might help us to learn more about this awful condition, do a search for ISBN-10: 0702030058. I am going to visit my doctor in the next few days with a printout of this article and some excerpts from the book. Best wishes to you all.

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cmchw said on 05 March 2012

Hi I was recently diagnosed with HMS and was told that HMS is now thought to be Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type III Hypermobile type and that starchy skin is not a major part of this particular type of EDS. there is a very good web page which is very up to date http://www.hypermobility.org/ .

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snoopysbabe said on 18 February 2012

After being in agony since before my teens (I am 33 now) and being ignored or treated as if I am making it up, I now feel as if a light has been switched on! Just days ago, having finally been referred to an occupational therapist, via a rheumatologist and many others, she and I noticed that my fingers are hypermobile. Coming to this site now, to do my own research, I feel as if I myself, along with the OT's help, may have finally found an answer with HMS. Finally someone has listened to me and can actually SEE the pain I am in. I will call her on Monday to see if she thinks that HMS is the issue...

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sam 33 said on 01 February 2012

I am 42years old & have suffered with this one way or another since i was a young child,growing up i was told it was growing pains untill in teenage years i researched my syptoms to find out why i was in so much pain.I am now under the hospital & am awaiting morphine patches to help me through each day.Im always tired & always have been but didnt know that was a symptom until reading these comments today,thank you.Does anyone know of anyone who has been registered as disabled with this condition as for a while now ive been thinking of giving up work as walking upstairs is so painfull? I barely sleep at night as the pain in my back is so bad which has a knock on effect to my daily life & mood.Im getting really fed up now.
I have 2daughters,my eldest is fine but my youngest also has hypermobility & shes having lots of problems already,shes only 15.
This condition isnt very well known & makes me feel quite alone at times,dont think people really understand what its like,inc the doctors.
Well done to everyone who has posted on here,every little info helps ;-))))

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sassy82 said on 02 December 2011

I am 29 and for the last 8 years have been referred back and forth between rheumatologists, physios, pain clinics, to be told I have hypermobility and fibromyalgia this year. There is no information around for either conditions, was advised by the GP not to read to much into what is on the internet - so what am I to do? Am on painkillers, had to leave work so now living n benefits - having to prove I am ill to the DWP - when I look well and I am young. Its so demeening and frustrating. some days I can barely walk, my husband has to cook, wash my hair for me, do the house work as some days I just can barely cope with sitting down. It is so depressing. Friends have gone as I can't manage the nights out, shopping days etc. My work life has gone. I feel so useless. I have been given no help with coping with this destructive illness, rarely get any sympathy or understanding from any one. Even had a physio today tell me pain is in your imagination - would like to see her cope with this daily!!
so frustrated and fed up :(

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sarahann77 said on 13 September 2011

i have been in pain since i was 11 it stared on/off untill i got pregnante at 31 i have been told growing pains nothing wrong im now 34 had every test under the sun even gone and paid for some myself im no longer working and now seperated so just me and my very active toddler then my health visitor came over and said you have ehd just like her daughters i couldnt belive it i wasnt going mad the list of symptoms is my history. she told me that she saw a prof nhs so off i went to my doc to get my referal a few questions why i think i need to see him and the letter was written was thinking that how can i have seen soooo many doc's and it turns out that my health visitor is the one to diagnose a condition that i have had for 23 years in under 5 mins of talking to me.
im using crutches and hopefully the health visitor is arranging some home help for my lo. just called prof and could you belive that the waiting list is only a mear 1 week wait thats amazing cos he is nhs. to all out there i have waited 23 yrs for someone to understand and not look at me like im making it up even though im on crutches and in tears evey day.
good luck to all sufferers out there.

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kallen888 said on 02 August 2011

I agree with all comments and its nice to hear other people are going thro the same thing i am ive felt so alone for a long time. doctors have told me hypermobility is not that painfull so i must be making it up even tho for the last 15 years of my 21 year life i have been in agony nearly every day, I am unable to walk without aid and find it hard to sleep thro the pain. Its making me depressed that doctors wont take me seriously !!! ive never been able to have a normal life cause everytime i try the pain and discomfort stops me.

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blondieA said on 27 March 2011

i agree with both comments for 10 years i was told that it was just growing pains and they had told me to wear joint supports which would have made it worse as it would have just weakened everything even more, i then eventually i tried a new doctor and he had done a few simple tests and was able to tell me straight away what it was unfortunatelly thats all i was told was not given any more information. i suffer really bad with it and i am currently on crutches and struggling alot i have been up the hospital alot as i have not been able to move but they always say they dont know much on hypermobility. has anyone got anymore advice on what i can do or if there is anyone i could speak to that knows alot about it.?

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wees said on 26 February 2011

I argree with Zweebie's comment above as its incredibly uncomfterbale and painfull it is to live with.
As i am 26 yrs old and had been suffering with syptoms of hpermobilty syndrome since i was about 5 years old to be brushed off by my gp time and time again and told it was growing pain.It wasnt until i had my 3rd child 3 years ago that they discovered my daughter had hypermobility and thats what finaly led to my diagnosis.
However i did find this article a tad helpfull as this is the most imnformation i have read since i was diagnosed at 22 yrs old,i didnt even get any any information regarding any of this information from my gp.Now thankfuly i know that some of my other problems are in fact futher symptoms of this condition.

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Zweeble said on 23 September 2010

I really don't think this article appreciates the pain, discomfort, fatigue and loss of quality of life this disorder creates which will not help medical professionals undertand their patients and help them. This is certainly not a hamless condition and has major impacts on sufferer's lives.

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