Double-jointed adolescents at risk for joint pain

February 28, 2013, Wiley

A prospective study by U.K. researchers found that adolescents who are double-jointed—medically termed joint hypermobility—are at greater risk for developing musculoskeletal pain as they get older, particularly in the shoulders, knees, ankles and feet. Findings published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), indicate that children with joint hypermobility are approximately twice as likely to develop pain at these joints.

When ligaments are loose (ligamentous laxity) it may cause joints to extend beyond the normal range (hypermobility), with studies showing a possible genetic basis. However, when genetic causes are not found and is present, doctors may use the term 'benign joint hypermobility syndrome.' Several studies have shown that joint pain is common in children with hypermobility, with some reports as high as 74% of children with joint hypermobility experiencing pain. Yet, other research suggests that while musculoskeletal pain is a frequent complaint in , it is no more common in those with joint hypermobility.

"With such conflicting evidence we set out to determine whether adolescents with joint hypermobility are at risk of developing musculoskeletal pain," explains lead author Professor Jon Tobias from the University of Bristol, UK. In a study funded by Research UK, the team recruited from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), also known as Children of the 90s. Joint hypermobility was determined at roughly age 14 by a Beighton score of 6 or more out of a possible 9. Individual joints were determined to be hypermobile if, for example, the could be bent backwards or the thumbs could touch the wrist. At nearly age 18, participants were evaluated for joint pain by questionnaire.

Analysis of participants with complete data was conducted, with 1267 boys and 1634 girls evaluated. Approximately 5% of participants were hypermobile at age 14, and at age 18 close to 45% of participants reported any pain lasting one or more days. Joint hypermobility was associated with approximately a two-fold increased risk of moderately severe pain at the shoulder, knee, ankle and foot. Interestingly, this increased risk was particularly marked in obese participants, with over a ten-fold increased risk of knee pain observed in obese participants with hypermobility, possibly reflecting the role of mechanical factors.

Professor Tobias concludes, "Our study provides the first prospective evidence that adolescents who display joint hypermobility are at increased risk of developing musculoskeletal pain as they get older, particularly in the shoulder, knee, ankle or feet. Further investigation of increased joint pain in teens is warranted to determine if the long-term effects of joint hypermobility puts them at risk for developing osteoarthritis later in life."

Explore further: Adolescents' weight linked to severe knee pain

More information: "Hypermobility is a Risk Factor for Musculoskeletal Pain in Adolescence: Findings from a Prospective Cohort Study." Jonathan H Tobias, Kevin Deere, Shea Palmer, Emma M Clark, Jacqui Clinch. Arthritis & Rheumatism; Published Online: February 28, 2013 (DOI: 10.1002/art.37836).

Related Stories

Adolescents' weight linked to severe knee pain

September 5, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Adolescents with a body mass index (BMI) rating of obese experience knee pain more often and to a greater severity than adolescents with a healthy weight, a new study shows.

Study looks at pain processing abnormalities in knee OA

September 17, 2012
(HealthDay)—For patients with knee osteoarthritis (K-OA), the lack of correlation between clinical pain and radiographic evidence of disease severity may be due to central sensitization, according to a study published online ...

Complications challenge rheumatoid arthritis patients after joint replacement surgery

November 28, 2012
In the first systemic review of evidence assessing complications following total joint arthroplasty, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were found to have an increased risk for hip dislocation after hip replacement surgery ...

Recommended for you

Osteoarthritis could be treated as two diseases, scientists reveal

January 10, 2018
Scientists at The University of Manchester have discovered that most people with osteoarthritis can be subdivided into two distinct disease groups, with implications for diagnosis and drug development.

US arthritis prevalence is much higher than current estimates

November 27, 2017
New research indicates that the prevalence of arthritis in the United States has been substantially underestimated, especially among adults

Maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels may help to prevent rheumatoid arthritis

November 20, 2017
Maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels may help to prevent the onset of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, research led by the University of Birmingham has discovered.

Old World monkeys could be key to a new, powerful rheumatoid arthritis therapy

November 16, 2017
In the quest for a new and more effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC looked to a primate that mostly roams the land in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It was ...

Study lists foods for fighting rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and progression

November 8, 2017
A list of food items with proven beneficial effects on the progression and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is provided in a new study published today in Frontiers in Nutrition. The authors suggest incorporating these foods ...

Prototype equipment can detect rheumatoid arthritis

September 28, 2017
According to a first clinical study published in the scientific journal Photoacoustics, the University of Twente and various European partners have designed a device that shows the difference between healthy fingers and arthritic ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.