Myth or Fact: Joint Hypermobility is Related to Pediatric Functional Abdominal Pain & Dr. Roy Link

According to a recent study (RJ Shulman et al. J Pediatri 2020; 222: 134-40), the prevalence of joint hypermobility does NOT differ in children with irritable bowel syndrome, functional abdominal pain, or healthy control children.

Methods (to reach this conclusion):

  • Children (median age ~9.5 years) with irritable bowel syndrome (n=109), functional abdominal pain (n=31), and healthy controls (n=69) completed a prospective 2-week pain and stooling diaries.  In addition, children and parents reported on measures of anxiety, depression, and somatization. Children were recruited from both primary care and tertiary care settings
  • Joint hypermobility was determined using Beighton criteria using a goniometer and examined cutoffs at both ≥4 or ≥6).

Key findings:

  • Beighton scores were similar between the groups, as was the proportion with joint hypermobility.  Beighton scores were not related to abdominal pain or stooling characteristics.
  • Beighton score ≥4: IBS 35%, FAP 36%, healthy controls 36%.
  • Beighton score ≥6: IBS 12%, FAP 13%, healthy controls 9%.
  • Children reported depression more frequently in those with Beighton scores ≥6 and somatization was greater in those with a score ≥4.

Discussion:

  • “It is well-recognized that patients with joint hypermobility syndromes (eg, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan) commonly have GI symptoms.” However, joint hypermobility is common —in this study’s healthy control group 36% had a score ≥4 and 9% had a score ≥6.
  • This study is in agreement with a school-based study (n=136) (M Saps et al. JPGN 2018; 66: 387-90).
  • Limitations: This study population had a median age of ~9.5 years; thus, these findings need to be determined in an older children

My take: There does not appear to be an increased risk of functional GI disorders in children with joint hypermobility. Thus, looking for joint laxity/hypermobility in children with abdominal pain is not needed.

Related blog posts:

Also, a link to Dr. Roy (Benaroch).  Roy is an Atlanta pediatrician and he explains, with the help of Batman and Luigi, the term ‘index’ case and when one is considered exposed: Dr. Roy Covid Pathway

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