Pain, distress and joint hyperlaxity

Joint Bone Spine. 2000;67(3):157-63.


Pain dominates the lives of many patients with hyperlaxity syndromes, most commonly the Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (BJHS/EDS). As a result they may experience psychosocial problems, which in many cases severely affects their healthy functioning. Above all is the overriding chronic pain in joints, muscles and ligaments, which arises from an inherent predisposition to the effects of everyday trauma, but other factors such as associated osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia are also important. There may also be neurophysiological factors at play producing nociceptive enhancement. Pain and distress of visceral origin can result from laxity of connective tissue within or providing support for the abdominal, thoracic or pelvic viscera leading to hernia, uterine and/or rectal prolapse, mitral valve prolapse or spontaneous pneumothorax. In children joint hyperlaxity is an important (and often unrecognised) source of rheumatic symptoms, which may be ignored or erroneously ascribed to juvenile idiopathic arthritis. The management of pain and distress in the hyperlaxity syndromes requires skill, patience, compassion and understanding. Often the results of conventional anti-rheumatic therapy (including anti-rheumatic drugs and surgery) as applied to other rheumatic diseases are disappointing and innovative approaches are required. Amongst these, for which evidence of efficacy is available, are physiotherapeutic and orthotic stabilisation of hyperlax joints, proprioceptive enhancement and the newer pain management techniques including cognitive behavioural therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthralgia / etiology*
  • Arthralgia / physiopathology*
  • Arthralgia / therapy
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / etiology*
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology*
  • Joint Instability / therapy