Wrist hypermobility is when a person can move their wrist more than the usual range of motion. It does not always cause problems but can lead to joint injuries and pain for some people.

Joint hypermobility is a common condition that does not cause problems in most people who live with it. It can lead to increased flexibility in any joint, including the wrists. Some people refer to this as being “double-jointed.”

However, if hypermobility starts to cause pain, it may result from hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD). There is no cure, but doctors can intervene to improve joint strength and overall fitness. People can also take measures to help improve comfort at home and before strenuous activity.

This article explores joint hypermobility and how it can affect the wrist in more detail.

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Genetics are the main cause of wrist hypermobility, according to Versus Arthritis. It often runs in families.

However, a small 2024 study suggested that trauma and chronic repetitive wrist injuries may also be responsible.

The researchers found that wrist hypermobility mainly occurred due to instabilities in the wrist joints and ligaments, as well as benign joint hypermobility syndrome (BHJS). This is a form of HSD that does not cause health problems, but doctors diagnose it after 3 months of joint pain, according to a 2020 case study series.

HSD may develop due to weak collagen, a substance that supports the structures of joints, tendons, ligaments, and skin throughout the body. It might also occur due to bones that fit into shallow joints. This may only develop in a single joint rather than across the whole body.

HSD can extend from BJHS to more severe connective tissue disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS).

Several factors may contribute to hypermobility, including:

Wrist hypermobility may not cause problems at all.

However, according to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), doctors may classify it as HSD when it causes symptoms. These might include:

  • wrist pain and stiffness
  • pain and stiffness in other joints
  • regular wrist strains and sprains
  • dislocating the wrist regularly
  • balance or coordination problems
  • stretchy, thin skin
  • fatigue that does not improve with sleep
  • proprioception, or a reduced ability to sense joint position without seeing it
  • abdominal pain
  • digestive issues
  • bladder problems
  • dizziness
  • unusual scars

Other conditions might also get worse due to wrist hypermobility.

For example, a 2022 study examined 100 females with carpal tunnel syndrome, another condition affecting the wrist, 56 of whom also had BJHS. The researchers concluded that those with BJHS experienced worse carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, including pain, numbness, and tingling.

Hypermobility only requires treatment if it causes pain or reduces quality of life. However, lifestyle adjustments are important for protecting overly mobile joints, tendons, and ligaments from injury.

People with wrist hypermobility should exercise regularly, but avoiding overtraining can help avoid injuries. Bracing and taping the wrist may help provide stability and prevent injury during exercise. Muscle strength programs can also help stabilize the joint.

Before intense exercise, people with hypermobile wrists should stretch fully to isolate tighter muscles without adding stress to the joints. This can help support control and balance.

People with hypermobility who participate in competitive athletics may consider taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) ahead of competitions to reduce symptoms. Physical therapists can also help tailor exercise to the needs of an individual with wrist hypermobility.

The NHS advises that people who suspect they or their child may have wrist hypermobility should speak with a healthcare professional, especially if it appears to cause pain or regular injuries.

Doctors can assess a person’s range of wrist motion using a scale called the Beighton score. The healthcare professional will perform a range of movements and assess how far the joint moves on a scale of one to nine. A 2021 review disputed its usefulness for diagnosing lower limb hypermobility but maintained that it can reliably show wrist flexibility.

Wrist hypermobility is often not a concern and may not cause any symptoms. However, it may lead to pain, frequent injury, and other problems for some people.

Research indicates that genetics contribute to the development of the condition.

People with hypermobile wrists may benefit from stretching thoroughly before exercise, bracing the wrist joints, avoiding excessive workouts, and following a course of physical therapy. Professional athletes with hypermobility may benefit from taking NSAIDs before competitions.

Individuals with wrist hypermobility should speak with a doctor if they experience any symptoms that indicate HSD. A healthcare professional can recommend exercises to strengthen joints and reduce symptoms.