“Double-jointedness” common among teens
Amy Norton writing in Reuters described a study showing that many teenagers, especially girls, have some degree of “double-jointedness,” – a sign, researchers say, that such flexibility is most often perfectly normal. They also say their findings raise the question of whether so-called benign joint hypermobility syndrome is being over-diagnosed. Often, people with the hypermobility syndrome have joint pain, but not always. And there is controversy over how often the joint flexibility is actually the cause of that pain, explained Dr. Jacqui Clinch, a consultant in pediatric rheumatology at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children in the UK and lead researcher on the new study.
In their study, Clinch and her colleagues found that of 6,000 14-year-olds they assessed, about 27 percent of girls and 11 percent of boys met the commonly used criteria for joint hypermobility syndrome. Using the criteria, known as the Beighton score, doctors look at whether certain joints are hyper-flexible. In general, a Beighton score of 4 or higher – meaning at least four hypermobile joints — is the cutoff for diagnosing. Based on these latest findings, that kind of flexibility is common, the researchers report in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism. “Our study has shown that ‘ double-jointedness’ is very common in children,” Clinch said. And in the “vast majority” of kids, Clinch said, such flexibility causes no problems.