Billie Eilish has opened up about her diagnosis
with hypermobility. The 21-year-old said she felt like her body was
“gaslighting” her, while discussing the injuries she sustained as a teenager in
a new cover story for Vogue.
“Going through my teenage years of hating myself
and all that stupid s**t, a lot of it came from my anger toward my body, and
how mad I was at how much pain it’s caused me, and how much I’ve lost because
of things that happened to it,” she said.
After a growth plate injury in her hip at age 13,
she shifted her focus from dancing to music. Following a series of
misdiagnoses, Eilish discovered she had a condition called hypermobility – and
she says she now has a more positive relationship with her body.
“I felt like my body was gaslighting me for years,”
she said. “I had to go through a process of being like, ‘My body is actually
me. And it’s not out to get me’.”
Here’s everything you need to know about
What is hypermobility?
“Hypermobility is a condition of having an
unusually or abnormally flexible range of movement in a joint or joints,”
explains physiotherapist Sammy Margo from muscle and joint care specialists
Deep Freeze and Deep Heat.
“People with hypermobility are often described as
‘double jointed’. Hypermobility of the joints occurs when the tissues holding
the joint together, particularly the ligaments and joint capsule, are ‘too
“Weak muscles around the joint often contribute to
hypermobility; this is due to changes in the type of and lack of collagen. The
joints mainly affected are knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers.”
Who might suffer from hypermobility?
“About one in 10 people (but perhaps as many as one
in five) have hypermobility,” Margo suggests. “Hypermobility is more common in
women and children, and people of Afro-Caribbean and Asian descent.”
She also suggests it is common in “gymnasts,
athletes, dancers and musicians” – like Eilish. “Children sometimes grow out of
it or [it] improves with age,” Margo adds.
According to Margo, there is “no clear cause” for
hypermobility, but “it may be linked to family history, bone shape or bone
socket depth, and muscle tone or strength”, she suggests. “In some cases, it is
linked to rare genetic conditions.”
What are some of the key symptoms?
While some with hypermobility experience no
symptoms, Margo continues: “In some people, hypermobility causes joint pain,
joint and ligament injuries, poor balance, clumsiness, dizziness, thin,
stretchy skin, tiredness (fatigue), and bowel and bladder issues. Joint
hypermobility can lead to dislocated joints and locked joints.”
The Vogue interview details how Eilish had various
misdiagnoses before discovering she had hypermobility. Margo suggests this is a
relatively common scenario, saying: “Hypermobility causes so many symptoms – it
is easy to misdiagnose, because it is simply not recognised. It is also
associated with some rare genetic conditions, which are easy to miss.”
How is it treated?
There is no cure for hypermobility, so for many
sufferers, the best course of action is protecting their joints and managing
any pain they might be experiencing.
“You can protect your joints by strengthening your
muscles through exercise. Before exercise it’s important to warm up properly,”
advises Margo, who recommends using a topical product from the Deep Heat range
“to warm cool muscles” before working out.
She continues: “Other important things I’d
recommend include maintaining good posture; wearing shoes with good arch
support; using orthotics to correct flat feet; standing with your knees
slightly bent when exercising and avoiding extreme ranges of movement.
“Consider seeing a physiotherapist to help reduce pain,
increase muscle strength, and improve posture and balance.”