New research dispelled the myth that individuals who are double-jointed are at greater risk of developing arthritis of the hand. Reporting in Arthritis & Rheumatism (July 2004), the researchers found lower incidences of arthritis in the hands of double-jointed individuals, despite the fact that the participants showed x-ray evidence of arthritis in the joint near the fingertip, and they came from families with a history of osteoarthritis.
For the study, the researchers set out to learn what physical characteristics may influence the disease in individuals who are predisposed to it. The study, which involved 1043 individuals from families in which 2 or more siblings had arthritis, found that the 4% with double-jointedness were two thirds less likely to have arthritis in the middle joint of the finger, compared with their less flexible peers. The researchers suggested that extreme joint mobility may ward off hand arthritis even in individuals genetically predisposed to the condition.