Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means we may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. This is at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services we truly believe in. Your support helps us keep the site running! Thank you.
Covid, hypermobility, and fibromyalgia are three conditions that have nothing to do with each other, right?
I stumbled across a study on all three conditions the other day and I was shocked by its findings. In a nutshell, the 2022 piece of research warns that people with hypermobility are more likely to develop fibromyalgia after contracting covid.
I have hypermobility and fibromyalgia and have had multiple covid infections. So, this research has really piqued my interest.
We already know that hypermobility leads to other medical conditions, but the fact that covid can trigger fibromyalgia in someone with bendy joints is a new one to me.
What science says about covid, hypermobility, and fibromyalgia
The 2022 study New Clinical Phenotype of the Post-Covid Syndrome: Fibromyalgia and Joint Hypermobility Condition examined 20 patients who had COVID-19. All the participants developed fibromyalgia with joint hypermobility within six months after the infection. Assessments of their clinical features, laboratory tests, and autoantibody profiles took place.
The patients had typical fibromyalgia symptoms such as widespread pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive impairment, as well as joint hypermobility and autonomic dysfunction. They also had elevated levels of antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and other autoantibodies that may indicate an autoimmune response to COVID-19 or connective tissue proteins.
The study’s authors say there’s a possible link between COVID-19, joint hypermobility, and fibromyalgia. They suggest that COVID-19 may act as a trigger factor for the development of fibromyalgia in susceptible individuals. They call for further research to confirm and explain this phenomenon.
Does covid cause hypermobility?
It’s very unlikely that covid directly causes hypermobility. What we know about hypermobility says that this isn’t possible.
Hypermobility syndromes, including Ehlers-Danlos (EDS) and hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD) are genetic conditions. Researchers are working hard to find the gene or genes responsible for hypermobility.
The most likely explanation for why covid triggers hypermobility is that these patients have been living with benign hypermobility all of their lives. The researchers of the study above say they assume that covid causes ‘local damage to the connective tissue in patients with joint hypermobility’ and this is why symptoms are prevalent post-covid infection.
Long covid is more likely in hypermobile individuals
Unfortunately, you’re more likely to develop long covid if you’re hypermobile. The most worrying thing is that many people with long covid don’t know that they have hypermobility.
Confused? Let me explain….
Around 1 in 10 people are hypermobile, according to The Hypermobile Syndromes Association. Although, this number is up for debate. Some estimates (NHS) say that 1 in 5 people are hypermobile.
The numbers vary because not everyone with hypermobility suffer symptoms. In a lot of cases, it’s a benign condition that causes nothing more than increased flexibility that a lot of people won’t even notice.
But when a person with benign or underlying hypermobility develops covid, it likely triggers an immune system response. Scientists believe that the covid infection results in hypermobility-related symptoms becoming pronounced in the body.
Researchers note that these symptoms then persist and long covid is increasingly likely to be diagnosed.
Are long covid and fibromyalgia the same?
Long covid and fibromyalgia are very similar. In fact, they’re so similar that they can be mistaken for the same illness.
Although the symptoms of both conditions have a lot in common, they are standalone conditions.
Fibromyalgia has a history dating back more than 100 years. In 1904, it was known as fibrositis. By 1972, fibromyalgia was described as causing widespread pain and tender points in the body. A few years later, in 1976, fibrositis’s name was changed to fibromyalgia.
In comparison, long-covid has only been around since the pandemic in 2020. The main difference between long covid and fibromyalgia is that to be diagnosed with fibro you have to have pressure points throughout your body.
Hypermobility, fibromyalgia, & covid – should you be concerned?
It’s early days and researchers are still looking into the link between these conditions. But what we do know is that hypermobility and fibromyalgia are frequently seen together. In fact, a recent study found they co-exist in 70% of patients.
Covid adds a further problem into the mix as it more than likely sets off the symptoms that we know are linked to hypermobility and fibromyalgia.
Now, let me tell you my story…..
I’ve had symptoms relating to hypermobility all my life. However, I didn’t know that I was hypermobile until I was in my 30s. In 2021, I had two bouts of covid in quick succession. I was then given my fibromyalgia diagnosis in 2022. On this basis, it looks as though my hypermobility made me vulnerable to the effects of covid which then led to fibromyalgia. I guess it’s possible I have long covid too.