Arthritis and Benign Hypermobility Joint Syndrome
How Is Benign Hypermobility Joint Syndrome Treated?
Treatment for BHJS is specialized for each child or young adult, based on his or her overall health, medical history, severity of pain or discomfort, and presence of other symptoms. It can include:
- Exercise. Basic strengthening and guided exercise programs can help your child reduce flexibility and increase muscle strength to help prevent future injury. Strengthening exercises and conditioning activities -- such as swimming, walking, and skating -- help improve joint strength. Inactivity should be avoided. In addition, being overweight worsens the problem. Splints, braces, or taping may be recommended to protect affected joints during activity.
- Joint protection. Practicing the following joint protection techniques can help your child avoid overstretching the joints at risk:
- Avoid sitting cross-legged with both knees bent ("Indian style").
- Bend the knees slightly when standing.
- Wear shoes with good arch supports.
- Decrease those unusual joint movements that hypermobile children often use to entertain their friends.
- Medications. Since the underlying problem with hypermobility is joint looseness rather than inflammation, most medications provide only limited relief. Joint discomfort after activity can be reduced with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen or ibuprofen.
What Is the Outlook for People With Benign Hypermobility Joint Syndrome?
Children with loose joints often do well in activities that reward flexibility, such as cheerleading, modern dance, gymnastics, and ballet. However, decreasing or stopping some of these activities may be necessary if there is too much pain or if joint dislocations occur
Generally, BHJS is self-limited, meaning that most symptoms improve as the children get older because their increased muscle size and strength reduces joint looseness. Still, some individuals retain lifelong BHJS, have frequent discomfort and can become injured more easily.
BHJS rarely leads to arthritis later in life, although some people with the condition may develop shoulder or kneecap problems if there are frequent dislocations or if the cartilage around these or other joints becomes excessively worn. Individuals that have BHJS as adults are more likely to develop osteoarthritis or "wear and tear" arthritis as they age.
A few people continue with increased muscle pain from hypermobility as they become adults. These people remain at increased risk of trauma-related sprains, injuries, dislocations, intermittent swelling, backaches and discomfort after exercise.