Functional gastrointestinal disorders are associated with the joint hypermobility syndrome in secondary care: a case-control study

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2015 Apr;27(4):569-79. doi: 10.1111/nmo.12535.


Background: The overlap of unexplained gastrointestinal (GI) and somatic symptoms is well established in patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID). Joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS) is a non-inflammatory connective tissue disorder associated with GI and somatic symptoms. We aimed to determine whether there is an association between diagnosis of JHS and FGID and the impact of this association on comorbidities and quality of life (QOL).

Methods: Prospective case-control study in secondary care GI clinics over 2 years. JHS was assessed by the first author prior to consultation in 641 consecutive new patients. Diagnosis of FGID (cases, n = 336) or organic disorders (controls, n = 305) was established blind to JHS status. JHS prevalence was compared in cases (FGID patients) and controls (organic disorders patients). Extra-intestinal comorbidity and QOL were compared in FGID patients with and without JHS.

Key results: JHS prevalence was higher in FGID compared to organic GI disorders (39.0% vs 27.5%, ORadj: 1.51, CI: 1.07-2.12, p = 0.02), and particularly associated with functional gastroduodenal disorders (44.1%, ORadj: 2.08, CI: 1.25-3.46, p = 0.005), specifically postprandial distress syndrome (51%, ORadj: 1.99, CI: 1.06-3.76, p = 0.03). FGID patients with JHS had increased chronic pain (23.2% vs 11.9%, p = 0.01), fibromyalgia (10.5% vs 3.1%, p = 0.01), somatization scores (13 vs 10, p < 0.001), urinary autonomic scores (30.5 vs 20.7, p = 0.03), and worse pain-related QOL scores (45.0 vs 63.5, p = 0.004).

Conclusions & inferences: JHS is significantly associated with FGID, and this subgroup of patients have increased comorbidity and decreased QOL. Further research is required to understand the pathophysiological basis of this association.

Keywords: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; fibromyalgia; functional dyspepsia; gastro-esophageal reflux disease; irritable bowel syndrome; joint hypermobility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnosis
  • Joint Instability / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life