Is Hypermobility a Super Syndrome?
Syndrome: a group of symptoms which consistently occur together, or a condition characterized by a set of associated symptoms.
If a syndrome is a condition associated with a cluster of symptoms, a supersyndrome is a group of related conditions often seen together.
Hypermobility affects the whole body. If your joints are hypermobile, all the connective tissue in your body is also hypermobile. This includes your gut, neck, and immune system, just to name a few. That is why hypermobility can be the root cause of many issues. I see these four conditions in many of my patients that are hypermobile.
Conditions Commonly Seen with Hypermobility
One in 12 Americans have an autoimmune disease of some sort, and another 20% of Americans have a positive autoantibody. You probably know someone who has an autoimmune disease. When I see a patient with Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid, Crohn’s disease, colitis, or any autoimmune disease, I always consider whether they have one of these other associated syndromes, and whether they are hypermobile. Later this month, I will write an entire post on autoimmunity related to hypermobility.
These include IBS, biliary dyskinesia (gallbladder dysfunction), and gastroparesis (stomach dysfunction). Also included here is SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) and other gut issues that cause gas and bloating. About 30% of Americans complain of some kind of gastrointestinal issue, which is the most common reason that people see a GI doctor. So, if I see someone with gut issues, bloating, gas, or if they often have food that gets stuck in their throat, have very slow digestion, or constipation, I always consider whether hypermobility might be at the root of these issues.
Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)
You may not have heard of MCAS. However, according to Dr. Afrin, the leading scientific researcher on MCAS, 20 – 30% of the population deal with some degree of MCAS. We’re just now learning of this syndrome, which can include things like hives of unknown reason, tongue swelling, angioedema, and uncontrolled itchy skin. Sometimes anxiety flares, panic attacks, and a racing heart can result from MCAS. What is interesting about mast cells is that when they leave the bone marrow, they have not yet taken their final form. If they go to your bladder, for example, they can cause interstitial cystitis. In your brain, mast cells can cause inflammation leading to chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. You get stuck in this inflammatory, feed-forward process. New research suggests that hypermobility might be primarily caused by early mast cell activation syndrome.
POTS or Dysautonomia
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a type of dysautonomia, which is basically a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. Ideally, we would spend about 99% of our life in the rest and digest autonomic state. However, in dysautonomia, there is an irregularity in the autonomic nervous system. So one part of the body is in a state of rest and digest (parasympathetic state), while the other part is in fight or flight (sympathetic state). Besides POTS, there are other kinds of dysautonomia. For example, I have mild Raynaud’s, so my fingers turn white when it’s really cold. I’ll be taking a deeper dive into dysautonomia in a couple of weeks.
Often, one of the unifying principles of these conditions is hypermobility. Did you know that about 20% of kids are hypermobile? And that at least one in 30 adults is hypermobile? So this cluster of conditions is something that practitioners should be looking for. However, because this is from some of the newer research and newer clinical information, they’re probably not.
Are You Hypermobile?
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