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