Do you bend and stretch at awkward angles? Are your hips or wrists particularly tight? Does it feel like there’s something wrong with your joints? You might be one of the many people who have double joints. If so, you’re not alone. Double joints are extremely common alike for dogs and humans. They occur when two bones meet in a joint that allows freedom of movement between the bones. As such, they’re incredibly common in both animal species. Double joints can also be caused by trauma or illness (e.g., arthritis). Knowing if you have double joints is important for several reasons: Not knowing could indicate an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later; knowing can help to prevent injuries and reduce the chances of further joint damage; and finally, knowing can give you insight into future joint therapy options that might work better for your specific case than others do.
What is Double Jointing?
Double jointing happens when two or more bones meet in a joint that is not fully fused together. This allows for a degree of mobility between the bones. Double jointed joints are quite common in both humans and dogs. While there are only a couple of breeds of dog that are known to be predisposed to double joints (e.g., Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, etc.), the phenomenon is much more common in people. Double joints are relatively rare, accounting for about 1% of all joints in most people.
How Double Joints Show Up in X-Rays
Double joints will often appear as two separate joints on an x-ray. In cases of minor double jointing, only one of the bones will be visible. As the condition progresses, double joints become more visible on x-rays. In cases where there’s significant bone growth in one joint, the joint on the opposite side of the body might not be visible at all. In such cases, the x-ray will only show the visible side of the bones, the side that’s fully fused to each other.
Double Joints Symptoms and Diagnosis
Double joints are often diagnosed based on a person’s symptoms. If you’ve noticed your joints feeling less than 100% as they age, or if you experience frequent pain in your joints, you may be double jointed. In some cases, a healthcare provider can diagnose double jointedness based on an x-ray. If a joint is visibly deformed or appears unusually in one area, a specialist will likely be able to detect it. Double jointed dogs often exhibit joint stiffness, soreness or inflammation. They may also have reduced mobility, restricted movement or reduced speed of movement in the joint. In some cases, double jointed dogs experience pain even when their joints are fully mobile.
Causes of Double Joints
There are a few reasons why a dog might have double joints. The most common reason is that one of the joints is significantly larger than the other. This can be caused by several factors, such as genetics, joint trauma, or arthritis. Genetics – Some dogs are particularly predisposed to develop double joints. In such cases, they’re often related to one of the dog’s parents. For example, if a Doberman Pinscher has a parent with double joints, the likelihood of the dog developing the condition is higher.
Joint trauma can sometimes cause one joint to grow larger than the other. In such cases, the deformed joint will often be accompanied by injury to the bone around it. Double jointed people and dogs might also be suffering from arthritis. If a joint is severely arthritic, it might grow disproportionately large. In such cases, the only way to keep the joint mobile is through frequent stretching.
Treatment for Double Joints
In cases of minor double jointing, there’s no treatment necessary. However, if a joint appears significantly deformed on an x-ray or shows signs of arthritis, it might need to be surgically fused together. To treat arthritis in a joint, your doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or anti-arthritic supplements. You might also try joint injection therapy. This involves injecting medication into the joint to provide a short-term solution.
What is Hypermobility?
Hypermobility is a medical condition in which an individual’s joints move beyond the normal range of motion. It is caused by the laxity of ligaments and tendons that hold the joints in place, while allowing excessive movement. Hypermobility affects about 20% of the population, with women more commonly affected than men. While it may seem like a cool party trick to be able to bend your fingers backward or contort your body in unusual ways, it can also cause pain and other health problems.
The Difference Between Hypermobility and Being Double-Jointed
Being double-jointed is a colloquial term used to describe the ability to move joints beyond their normal range of motion. However, it is not a medical term and is not a diagnosis. Hypermobility, on the other hand, is a medical condition characterized by excessive joint movement, which can lead to joint pain, dislocation, and other health problems. Therefore, while double-jointedness may be a harmless quirk, hypermobility requires medical attention.
Symptoms of Hypermobility
The most common symptoms of hypermobility include joint pain, joint instability, and frequent dislocations or subluxations (partial dislocations). Other symptoms may include fatigue, muscle weakness, and poor balance. Hypermobility can also lead to other conditions such as scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine), flat feet, and mitral valve prolapse (a heart condition).
Diagnostic Tests for Hypermobility
The Beighton Scale
The Beighton scale is a widely used tool to diagnose hypermobility. It is a simple test that assesses the mobility of several joints in the body. The test involves checking the range of motion in the following joints:
- The fifth finger: The ability to bend the fifth finger backward beyond 90 degrees.
- The elbow: The ability to straighten the elbow beyond 10 degrees.
- The knee: The ability to straighten the knee beyond 10 degrees.
- The thumb: The ability to touch the thumb to the forearm.
- The spine: The ability to bend forward and place the palms of the hands flat on the floor.
Each of these movements is scored as 1 point, and a score of 5 or more out of 9 indicates hypermobility.
Other tests that may be used to diagnose hypermobility include genetic testing, electromyography (EMG), and nerve conduction studies (NCS).
Common Conditions Associated with Hypermobility
Hypermobility is often associated with other conditions, including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan syndrome, and osteogenesis imperfecta. These conditions can cause other symptoms and complications, such as skin hyperextensibility, aortic aneurysm, and bone fragility, respectively.
Treatment Options for Hypermobility
There is no cure for hypermobility, but treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment options include:
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can develop an exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the joints and improve joint stability.
- Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may help alleviate joint pain.
- Joint support: Using braces or taping can help support the joints and prevent dislocations.
- Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged joints or stabilize hypermobile joints.
Exercises to Help Manage Hypermobility
Exercises that can help manage hypermobility include:
- Strengthening exercises: Exercises that target the muscles around the hypermobile joints, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, can help stabilize the joints and reduce pain.
- Stretching exercises: Gentle stretching exercises can help improve flexibility and range of motion in the joints.
- Low-impact exercises: Activities like swimming, cycling, and yoga can be beneficial as they are low-impact and less likely to cause joint pain or injury.
- Postural exercises: Exercises that focus on proper posture can help to reduce strain on the joints and prevent further damage.
Hypermobility is a medical condition that affects the mobility of joints beyond the normal range of motion. It can cause pain, instability, and other health problems, but with proper management, people with hypermobility can lead normal lives. The Beighton scale is a widely used tool for diagnosing hypermobility, and treatment options include physical therapy, medication, joint support, and surgery. Exercises that target muscle strength, flexibility, and posture can also help to manage hypermobility. If you suspect you may have hypermobility or are experiencing joint pain or instability, consult with your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Double jointed dogs can lead a fairly normal life with the right amount of care and attention. However, they do pose a few challenges for owners. They may experience reduced mobility or be limited in their joint movement due to joint inflammation. In addition, a deformed joint might require surgery to be fused back into shape. While double jointed dogs require a little extra work, they’re worth it. Not only do they make great companions, but they also come with a wealth of insight into joint health. Double jointed dogs can help veterinarians identify problems that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
Nina Burkovskaya is a senior content writer at Raisetwice since 2020. She has 12 years of yoga experience and 5 years experience of motivational coaching. On a free time loves to read biographies of the famous people and go for a walk with her dog.