Loose joints or hypermobility of joints is a condition which is characterized by chronic pain of the joints (arthralgia) and hyper flexible joints. This condition is given the name ‘ligamentous laxity’. Ligamentous laxity is said to occur when the body ligaments that surround the joint especially, become loose and hence, the mobility of joints is increased.
Ligaments are straps that hold on two bones together tightly at a joint to prevent them from being displaced. Loose ligaments can occur due to genetic reasons such as that seen in Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (type 1, 3, 7 & 11). Ligamentous laxity can also occur due to injuries that are severe enough to stretch the joint or to tear apart the ligaments. Injuries to joints if not treated properly can result in loose ligaments.
Signs and Symptoms of Loose Painful Joints
Loose and painful joints; the name is given to this condition as both the words ‘loose and painful’ are its characteristics. Obviously, when the supporting structures of the joint are damaged, the junction will tend to loosen and that would add to its mobility. Affected joints would also suffer from pain.
Joint hypermobility can occur at a very young age and decreases as the age progresses. Sometimes joint hypermobility does not interrupt the normal lives and routines of the affected ones. But in others, this condition of the ligaments worsens and is named as benign hypermobility syndrome. Some of the signs and symptoms of loose painful joints are as under.
Arthralgia is the most common symptom of this disorder. The affected joints are painful even with slight movements. This pain can occur in any joint but usually involves larger ones such as the joint of knee and elbow. Pain due to loose joints is more common in the thigh or calf muscles.
Another sign and symptom of loose ligament is the occurrence of certain back problems. Back pain, osteoarthritis and disc locations may be found in affected individuals.
Pain occurring somewhere else in the body other than the affected area is called as referred pain. Referred pain may also be amongst the signs and symptoms of loose painful joints.
The affected joints tend to be hyper flexed when they are moved. Such as, the thumb may touch the forearm; fingers, elbows and knees can be moved beyond their normal range of movement, patients may also be able to touch the floor with their hands flat on it when they bend over their waist in a forward position.
Dislocation of bones of shoulder joint, frequent sprains in ankles and knee effusions are some of the common symptoms of this ligament disorder.
Daytime pain or mild swelling of the affected joint in late afternoon can also be a sign of loose painful joints.
Discomfort After Exercise
Discomfort after an exercise and pain in the joints may also occur.
The affected individuals may lose the sense of joint positioning which may result in poor positions of limbs.
This test is usually carried out to indicate wide spread hyper mobility. It focuses on nine joints. For each joint which is flexible beyond its normal range, counts a point. The patient having a score of four or more accompanied with chronic pain in at least four joints may be diagnosed as having benign hypermobility syndrome.