Hypermobile joints

Alternative names
Joint hypermobility; Loose joints

Hypermobile joints are joints that move beyond their normal range with little effort. The most common joints where this occurs are the elbows, wrists, fingers, and knees.

Hypermobile joints occur in some very rare medical conditions, but can also occur in otherwise healthy and normal children. Children generally tend to be more flexible than adults, but in those with hypermobile joints, they are capable of flexing and extending beyond normally observed limits for that particular joint. The movement is accomplished without undue force and without discomfort. These children also frequently have flat feet.

Common Causes

Home Care
There is no specific care for the hypermobility. In many cases, people with hypermobile joints are at an increased risk for joint dislocation and other problems, so extra care may be needed to protect the joints. Consult your health care provider for specific recommendations.

Call your health care provider if

  • The ability to move a joint suddenly changes or decreases.  
  • A joint suddenly appears misshapen (different than usual for that person)  
  • There is a loss of ability to use an arm or leg, or there is pain with movement of a joint.

What to expect at your health care provider’s office

Hypermobile joints often accompany other symptoms that, taken together, define a specific syndrome or condition. A diagnosis is based on a family history, medical history and thorough physical evaluation.

Medical history questions that help document hypermobile joints in detail may include:

  • time pattern       o When was it first noticed?       o Is it getting worse or more noticeable?  
  • other       o What other symptoms are also present (such as swelling or redness around the joint)?       o Is there any history of joint dislocation, difficulty walking, or difficulty using the arms?

The physical examination will include detailed examination of the muscles and skeleton. The joints may be moved to determine the direction and extent of mobility.

Diagnostic testing will vary depending on what condition is suspected.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Sharon M. Smith, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.