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How is hypermobility syndrome diagnosed?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

To diagnose hypermobility syndrome, your doctor will first assess your joint hypermobility by asking you to perform different physical tests. These will include bending your thumb to your forearm, hyperextending your elbows, hyperextending your knees, and others. A point is given for each joint determined to be hypermobile, and the resulting score is called the Beighton score. If your Beighton score is four or greater, and you have had pain in four or more joints for longer than three months, your doctor may diagnose you with hypermobility syndrome.

The first step to diagnosing joint hypermobility syndrome is calculating a score that measures generalized joint laxity by testing and observing 5 maneuvers:

  • The wrist and thumb can be moved downward so the thumb touches the forearm.
  • The little fingers can be extended back beyond 90 degrees.
  • The knees are abnormally bowed backward when standing and viewed from the side.
  • The arms bend further than normal, beyond straight, when fully extended.
  • The palms can be placed flat on the floor when bending at the waist and keeping the knees straight.

If your child has joint pain and swelling, conditions such as juvenile arthritis or other inflammatory conditions should be ruled out by the doctor. It’s also important to note that benign joint hypermobility syndrome is different from other disorders that cause generalized joint laxity, such as Marfan  and Ehlers-Danlos syndromes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.