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Joint Hypermobility & Neurodiversity - Is there a link?

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

Joint Hypermobility & Neurodiversity - Is there a link?

Neurodiversity defines the range of differences in between brain function and behavioral presentation which is part of the expected variation of the human population, and, it focuses on inclusions, accommodations and support over cure propositions. Neurodiversity includes diagnoses like autism, attention deficits hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) & and even those who are gifted. It also embraces and celebrates the differences in between individuals.

Those with joint hypermobility have been found to have a difference in the brain part that processes fear and emotion when compared to non-hypermobile individuals. This area of the brain is known as the Amygdala. This area of the brain Is thought to be a part of the limbic system, which is also responsible for survival instincts, and memory.

Researches have found that Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome patients are 6 times more likely to present with ADHD, EDS and 7 times more prone to be in the Autism spectrum when compared to non-hypermobile individuals. Overall these studies have shown that psychiatric disorders were found in 42.5% of the EDS cohort, with 22.7% of patients affected with 2 or more psychiatric diagnoses. Other diagnoses like anxiety and depression were most commonly reported on EDS patients, with frequencies of 23.6 and 25.5%, respectively.

While managing the chronic widespread pain in these patients is essential, identifying associated psychiatric conditions can easily overlooked. Managing potential comorbid psychiatric conditions in patients with EDS is vital to improve quality of life, as research has shown that these patients also have a higher prevalence of personality disorders.

In neurodivergent adults, there is a strong link between the expression of joint hypermobility, dysautonomia, and pain, more so than in the comparison group. Joint hypermobility mediates the link between neurodivergence and symptoms of dysautonomia and pain, and there may also be a neural contribution to the higher prevalence of orthostatic intolerance symptoms in neurodivergence.

In sum, neurodiversity is a viewpoint that brain differences are normal, rather than deficits, and that neurodivergent people experience, interact with, and interpret the world in unique ways. Due to social expectations and a lack of support and understanding, neurodivergent individuals may be particularly susceptible to mental health problems - especially in environments where differences are not understood and respected.

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