According to a new study children and teens with chronic fatigue syndrome are three and a half times more likely to have hyperflexible joints than their healthy counterparts. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore examined 100 children, ages 10 and older, for joint hypermobility. The group was split evenly between patients diagnosed with CFS and otherwise healthy children.
Joint hypermobility was graded on the degree to which a patient could bend the pinkie finger back beyond 95 degrees and hyperextend the knee beyond 180 degrees among several other feats. Of the participants with CFS, 75 percent showed joint hypermobility compared with 20 percent of the healthy children.
Lead researcher Peter C. Rowe, M.D., says joint hypermobility alone is not a direct cause of CFS. He says, "We know that about 20 percent of healthy adolescents have joint hypermobility, but clearly most do not go on to develop CFS, so simply finding this on an exam need not start a search for CFS." Rowe adds, however, that the link between flexible joints and CFS may provide detailed knowledge into the development of CFS symptoms because a person's degree of joint mobility is apparent in early childhood, long before the onset of CFS symptoms.
The findings contradict widely shared clinical observations that people with CFS have normal physical examinations. CFS often consists of fatigue- and pain-related symptoms that can interfere with daily life and cause long absences from school.