What causes joint hypermobility and what should I do about it?

Symptom Database

Joint hypermobility, also known as hypermobility syndrome or joint laxity, is a condition characterized by the ability to move joints beyond their normal range of motion. It is often associated with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that affects the body’s ability to produce collagen. While joint hypermobility can be a benign trait in some individuals, it can also lead to joint instability, joint pain, and an increased risk of joint injuries. In this article, we will explore the causes of joint hypermobility and discuss what can be done to manage and alleviate its symptoms.

Causes of Joint Hypermobility

Joint hypermobility can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Genetics: Some individuals are born with a genetic predisposition to joint hypermobility. It can be inherited from one or both parents.
  • Connective Tissue Disorders: Conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can cause joint hypermobility due to abnormalities in collagen production.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, such as those that occur during pregnancy or puberty, can increase joint laxity.
  • Muscle Weakness: Weak muscles surrounding the joints can contribute to joint hypermobility.

Recognizing Joint Hypermobility

Joint hypermobility can manifest in various ways, and its severity can vary from person to person. Some common signs and symptoms of joint hypermobility include:

  • Flexible Joints: Individuals with joint hypermobility often have joints that can move beyond the normal range of motion.
  • Loose Joints: The ligaments and tendons supporting the joints may be more elastic and less stable, leading to joint instability.
  • Hypermobile Joints: Joints may feel loose or “floppy” and may be prone to dislocation or subluxation.
  • Joint Pain: Joint hypermobility can cause chronic pain, especially in weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and ankles.
  • Joint Injuries: Individuals with joint hypermobility are more susceptible to sprains, strains, and other joint injuries.

Managing Joint Hypermobility

While joint hypermobility cannot be cured, there are several strategies that can help manage its symptoms and improve joint health. Here are some tips:

1. Joint Exercises

Engaging in regular exercises that focus on joint stability and strengthening can help support hypermobile joints. These exercises should be low-impact and target the muscles surrounding the joints. Examples include:

  • Core strengthening exercises, such as planks and bridges, to improve stability in the spine and pelvis.
  • Resistance training to strengthen the muscles around the joints, such as using resistance bands or light weights.
  • Balance exercises, such as yoga or tai chi, to improve proprioception and joint control.

2. Joint Protection

Protecting the joints from excessive stress and strain is crucial for individuals with joint hypermobility. Here are some ways to protect your joints:

  • Avoiding repetitive movements or activities that put excessive strain on the joints.
  • Using supportive braces or taping techniques to provide additional stability to the joints.
  • Using ergonomic equipment and modifying daily activities to reduce joint stress.

3. Physical Therapy

Working with a physical therapist who specializes in joint hypermobility can be beneficial. They can provide personalized exercises and techniques to improve joint stability, reduce pain, and prevent injuries.

4. Pain Management

If joint pain becomes chronic and affects daily life, it is essential to seek appropriate pain management strategies. This may include over-the-counter pain relievers, topical creams, or prescription medications. Consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended to determine the most suitable approach.

5. Lifestyle Modifications

Adopting certain lifestyle modifications can also help manage joint hypermobility. These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce stress on the joints.
  • Practicing good posture and body mechanics to minimize joint strain.
  • Getting enough rest and sleep to support joint recovery and overall well-being.
  • Engaging in stress-reducing activities, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, as stress can exacerbate joint pain.


Joint hypermobility can be a challenging condition to manage, but with the right strategies and support, individuals can lead fulfilling lives. By understanding the causes of joint hypermobility and implementing appropriate exercises, joint protection techniques, and lifestyle modifications, it is possible to alleviate symptoms, improve joint health, and reduce the risk of joint injuries. If you suspect you or your child may have joint hypermobility, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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