People with double-jointed shoulders have unusual levels of flexibility in their shoulder joints. Having double-jointed shoulders may sometimes lead to chronic pain and injuries.

“Double-jointed” is not a medical term. It is a term that people commonly use to describe hypermobility in a given joint. Hypermobility can also be a symptom of conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Down syndrome.

Many people with hypermobile shoulders do not experience any serious symptoms. Their extra flexibility may even be a benefit while playing sports or dancing.

However, people with shoulder hypermobility may experience more frequent shoulder injuries, such as strains, sprains, and dislocations.

This article will review the key information about double-jointed shoulders, including causes and treatment.

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Joint hypermobility is a condition that causes extreme joint flexibility. People with joint hypermobility may have this added flexibility around their shoulder joints.

Beyond extra flexibility, people with double-jointed shoulders may also experience:

  • shoulder instability
  • joint subluxation, which is when the humerus bone comes out of the socket
  • a popping noise during shoulder movement

Joint hypermobility is more common in children than adults. One 2022 review estimates that between 5 and 40% of children have joint hypermobility. In adults, the estimate ranges from 10–20%.

Females are also more likely than males to have joint hypermobility. This may be due to hormonal or anatomical differences.

Most people with double-jointed shoulders will not experience any serious symptoms.

They may even find their extra flexibility helpful during certain activities, such as playing music or sports. But some people with joint hypermobility may have uncomfortable side effects, such as chronic pain, joint pain (arthralgia), or fatigue.

Double-jointed shoulders commonly result from inherited genetic traits.

People with joint hypermobility often have damaged or weakened collagen. This protein makes up connective tissue throughout the body. When collagen is weak or damaged, joints can become less stable, sometimes causing hypermobility.

Some people also experience double-jointed shoulders due to other health conditions that can affect connective tissue. Many people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome have joint hypermobility, frequently in the shoulder area.

Many autistic people also experience joint hypermobility. And they are at a greater risk of generalized joint hypermobility.

In many cases, hypermobile shoulders do not cause any serious health issues. But they may lead to health problems in certain instances.

Joint pain

Shoulder pain is a common symptom of joint hypermobility. This may result from the muscle fatigue that many people with this condition experience.

Additionally, joint pain typically worsens after physical activity. Repetitive shoulder movements can also trigger stiffness and pain in people with joint hypermobility.

Shoulder injuries

Joint hypermobility can also increase the risk of shoulder injuries.

One 2021 study examined shoulder injuries among athletes. Researchers found that athletes with hypermobile shoulders were three times more likely to experience a shoulder injury.

Hypermobile joints are generally less stable than typical joints. This instability can loosen or weaken the surrounding muscles, increasing the risk of shoulder injuries.

Related conditions

People with hypermobile shoulders may have underlying health conditions, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

They may also heal more slowly and scar more easily than others. Due to this, they may react poorly to surgery.

This could be especially problematic for people who need surgery following a shoulder injury.

Many people with Down syndrome also experience musculoskeletal issues. These issues can negatively affect balance and coordination and may increase the chance of joint injuries such as dislocation.

The right treatment for hypermobility pain depends on the person and the affected joint.

Treatment options may include:

People with double-jointed shoulders may also benefit from kinesiology tape, which can temporarily reduce pain by stabilizing the joint.

People who have double-jointed shoulders experience hypermobility in their shoulder joints. Hypermobility typically causes few or no symptoms. However, it can also increase a person’s risk of chronic pain and certain shoulder injuries.

Certain health conditions can cause joint hypermobility, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Down syndrome.

Many treatment options are available to manage shoulder discomfort. People living with shoulder hypermobility may wish to speak with a medical professional to learn more about treatment options for chronic pain.