Background: In adolescents with non-pathological and pathological joint hypermobility, gait deviations have been associated with pain and fatigue. It remains unclear what distinguishes the non-pathological form of joint hypermobility (JH) from pathological forms (i.e. hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) or hypermobility spectrum disorders (HSD). Our objective was to identify discriminative clinical characteristics and biomechanical gait features between adolescents with hEDS/HSD, JH, and healthy controls (HC). Methods: Thirty-two adolescents were classified into three subgroups (hEDS/HSD=12, JH=5, HC=15). Clinical characteristics (e.g. pain intensity and surface, fatigue, functional disability) were inventoried. The gait pattern was assessed using a three-dimensional, eight-camera VICON MX1.3 motion capture system, operating at a sample rate of 100 Hz (VICON, Oxford, UK). Spatiotemporal parameters, joint angles (sagittal plane), joint work, joint impulse, ground reaction force and gait variability expressed as percentage using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) were assessed and analysed using multivariate analysis. Multivariate analysis data is expressed in mean differences(MD), standard error(SE) and P-values. Results: The hEDS/HSD-group had significantly higher fatigue score (+51.5 points, p = <0.001) and functional disability (+1.6, p < .001) than the HC-group. Pain intensity was significantly higher in the hEDS/HSD-group than the other subgroups (JH; +37 mm p = .004, HC; +38 mm, p = .001). The hEDS/HSD-group showed significantly more gait variability (JH; +7.2(2.0)% p = .003, HC; + 7.8(1.4)%, p = <0.001) and lower joint work (JH; −0.07(0.03)J/kg, p = .007, HC; − 0.06(0.03)J/kg, p = .013) than the other subgroups. The JH-group showed significantly increased ankle dorsiflexion during terminal stance (+5.0(1.5)degree, p = .001) compared to hEDS/HSD-group and knee flexion during loading response compared to HC-group (+5.7(1.8) degree, p = .011). Significance: A distinctive difference in gait pattern between adolescents with non-pathological and pathological joint hypermobility is found in gait variability, rather than in the biomechanical features of gait. This suggests that a specific gait variability metric is more appropriate than biomechanical individual joint patterns for assessing gait in adolescents with hEDS/HSD.
- Connective tissue disorder
- Functional disability
- Gait analysis
- Generalized joint hypermobility