Double Jointed: What The Heck Is It?

MrRING

Antediluvian
Joined
Aug 7, 2002
Messages
5,021
Likes
1,171
Points
234
#1
Is being "double jointed" a true physical difference, or just a particular bendability of the joint that some have more than others? And if there is a true physical difference, what would it mean evolutionarily?
 

Imperial_Call

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Sep 22, 2002
Messages
1,194
Likes
10
Points
69
#2
One of my fingers is double jointed, or it was till an orthopaedic* doctor told me it's loose tendons ...


(* that is a bone type specialist isn't it?)
 

Rrose_Selavy

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jan 6, 2003
Messages
1,636
Likes
16
Points
69
#3
What distinguishes most super bendy people such as circus contortionists is that they have very elastic ligaments. Instead of the flexible but limited movement we normally have they have so much more.

You also get increased skeletal flexibilty or "loose joints" (eg with the fingers), in Marfans Syndrome caused by a defective gene, though not to the same degree as the super contortionists.
 

MagikBug

Fresh Blood
Joined
Oct 21, 2004
Messages
18
Likes
0
Points
17
#5
I discovered my fingers bent in rather strange directions when I was about 5 years old, my Mum thought I'd broken my index finger as it bent backwards far too much in an almost 'u' shape once when I pointed at something (at the zoo I think, can't remember what though). I then found out I could bend the tips of my fingers forwards as well, making very odd shapes that made people cringe.

I now have a 13 year old son who can bend his index finger back so that it touches the back of his hand - that makes me cringe :eek!!!!:

I will try and dig out a photo I took the other day and see if I can figure out how to attach it - I am new on the message board.

I know that I could not do this when I was younger, and I know the flexibilty decreases as you get older. I would like to know if loose/flexible tendons are genetic even if they are not caused by a genetic syndrome. Also is this what once caused me to dislocate my jaw whilst yawning ? Rather embarrassing as you can't speak to explain what has happened. Also very painful and dribbly, couldn't eat baguette sandwiches for a long time after that happened.
 

KerryDF

Fresh Blood
Joined
Aug 13, 2001
Messages
12
Likes
6
Points
34
#6
When I was a little kid at primary school I found to my suprise that I was what other people called "double-jointed"..its hard to describe in words but when we all used to sit on the mat facing the teacher the other kids used to be agog at how my legs splayed out to the side..the insides of my thighs flat on the ground (oh dear this is starting to sound dodgy). Anyway I never thought it was anything special but apparantly it was unusual and the "Double jointed" phrase was used often. Can't say it was ever any great advantage to me and a few years later I found couldn't do it comfortably anymore.
 

nickedoff12

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jun 13, 2004
Messages
144
Likes
2
Points
34
#7
Wtf?

Um...

Can anyone like, 'pressurize' their knuckles, and make them snap?
I do it all the time on my right hand...but my left one just makes me feel queasy (sp?) when I try it.

My old 6th grade teacher could do it, because I saw her once...Everyone else thought she was nuts, but -I- knew she wasn't.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, nevermind. Maybe only GIFTED people can do it ;)
 

beakboo1

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Sep 20, 2001
Messages
2,312
Likes
28
Points
69
#8
Rrose Selavy said:
What distinguishes most super bendy people such as circus contortionists is that they have very elastic ligaments. Instead of the flexible but limited movement we normally have they have so much more.

You also get increased skeletal flexibilty or "loose joints" (eg with the fingers), in Marfans Syndrome caused by a defective gene, though not to the same degree as the super contortionists.
Not just the classic Marfans, but all along the "Marfans spectrum". There are a whole host of different types of fibrilin and collegen (sp?), any of which can be difficient. One of the problems this causes is loose joints, which aren't always a good thing. Quite an annoying thing when the Hubcap next to you on the sofa absent mindedly makes nauseating cracking noises with his jaws and fingers, and it rarely bodes well for joint health in old age. In fact Hubcap had his jaw dislocated once by a dentist, I expect that surprised the dentist.
 

nikkiped

Junior Acolyte
Joined
Mar 3, 2004
Messages
34
Likes
1
Points
22
#9
As a youngster a doctor told my mum I was double jointed... a while later another doctor told her there was no such thing :roll:
 

beakboo1

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Sep 20, 2001
Messages
2,312
Likes
28
Points
69
#10
I suppose he meant that there's literally no such thing, I mean, you wouldn't have two sets of joints.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#11
This contribution comes with the proviso that it's based on observation of the way my own battered carcass seems to work. Sorry if it doesn't ring true with other people's observations.

So far as I understand, what many people refer to as 'double jointed', and what lots of folks have to some extent (including m'self) have is hypermobility of the joints, caused by too-stretchy ligaments.

This understanding of it is based on a conversation with a 'manipulative therapist' (that's chiropractor by any other name) and reading of a leaflet on the subject while I was working in a hospital.

In my own case, this exhibits itself in the joints (especially elbows and knees) travelling further when extended than they ought. While a 'normal' arm apparently looks straight if extended, mine kind of bends visibly in the wrong direction. This is fine for elbows, as the arm doesn't have to carry as much weight or deal with as much impact as the leg, but my knees are often very painful (especially in cold weather).
I also make clicky-poppy noises from various joints (elbows, knuckles, jaw, neck), some at will, others quite unintentionally, and due to the floppiness of my knee ligaments, find a kind of half-a-lotus-position the most comfortable way to sit, otherwise they kind of set up and are very painful when I stand up.

Anyhow, what I also am lead to believe is that top gymnasts and other people who have to contort to some extent for a living (I've no idea if this includes the sort who fit themselves into tiny boxes at the circus) tend to be "normal-jointed" people who have developed their flexibility through training and practice.
As an example, Mrs 101 is an ex-ballet dancer, now dance teacher, and though she lays no claim to double-jointedness, she can stretch and bend her limbs in a most alarming fashion. She claims this is because she was trained to do it, and likewise, she trains her pupils to do the same thing.
On the other hand, I with my legs which bend the wrong way, my clicky knuckles and my ball-and-socket joint in the right shoulder which I can dislocate at will (Serious. Just the right) also have the tightest hamstrings in the world and cannot even touch my toes, let alone do the splits or anything.

So I think what I'm trying to say is that being"Double-jointed" (whatever we might finally agree it is) is not synonymous with being flexible/ bendy in any practical sense.
 
Top