LIFESTYLE

Rare Hypermobility Syndrome Means Woman Dubbed 'Human Jigsaw' Has Dislocated Joints More Than 250 Times

03/12/2014 11:00 GMT | Updated 03/12/2014 11:59 GMT

A young woman has been dubbed the 'Human Jigsaw' because of a rare condition which means she's dislocated her joints - more than 250 times.

Nicola Lynch, 18, reckons she's dislocated her shoulders an incredible 80 times in the six years since first being diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome.

She has also dislocated her thumbs about 25 times each, and her hips and ankles regularly slip out of their sockets.

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Every time she dislocates a joint, she's left in agony because unlike double-joined people, her condition mostly results in traumatic injuries.

She said: "I first dislocated my thumb when I was about 12. I was mucking about with a friend, and I grabbed her coat and it just popped out of place. The pain was horrendous.

"The doctors put it in a cast and sent me home, but a couple of days later, I dislocated my other thumb, and that was put in a cast too.

"It started off just in my hands, but then my shoulders started going, and now it's moved on to my hips, ankles and jaw. It's terrible - I feel like a human jigsaw."

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Woman with Hypermobility Syndrome

The fragile teen was diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome, and her latest dislocation was just two weeks ago when her ankle gave way and she fell, dislocating that and also her shoulder.

She reckons she's dislocated her hips about 50 times, and now her ankles pop out of their socket around three times a week.

Nicola, who is unable to work as a result of her condition, lives with her retired nurse mum Rosemary Walker, 51, and postman stepdad Martin Walker, 51, in Rainham, Kent.

But the brave young woman tries to not let her condition get in the way of her life - despite being hospitalised the last time she ate a burger.

She said: "I was in a restaurant with my fiance and family when I ordered a burger.

"It was quite big, and when I opened my mouth to take a bite my jaw just clicked out of place.

"I had to go to the hospital because it was just hanging loose and absolutely killing.

"Since then my jaw has popped out twice more, so I've got be really careful not to eat anything too chewy or hard. It's tough, but my fiance and family are really supportive."

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Fiance Stephen Filmer, 22, also has to be careful around Nicola, because her fragile joints mean he's accidentally caused several dislocations while "mucking around."

Nicola said: "The look on his face whenever it's happened is terrifying.

"Of course he never means to hurt me, but sometimes it happens anyway. I try to put on a brave face and not let on how much pain I'm in, but it's tough.

"I've met a couple of other people with hypermobility syndrome, and it's good to know that they go through the same things as me.

"I know my joints are sadly getting worse, so I'm probably going to have to have quite a few replacement operations soon.

"I'm living in fear of what will dislocate next, really."

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While hypermobility is a joint condition that allows them to stretch much further than normal, the syndrome form of the condition is more severe as it causes pain.

Nicola has already had operations on tendons and ligaments in her hands, but she still dislocates them from time to time.

She said: "I was told it would get easier as I got older, but it just seems to have gotten worse.

"It happens to my jaw now. My ankles also give way and I just fall over. I've fallen down the stairs before.

"I was at college once and fainted. When I came round, my hip and both shoulders were dislocated. I couldn't do anything. An air ambulance had to take me to hospital.

"It's constantly happening and it's affected my life in every way.

"I can't lift anything heavy, even shopping bags. I can't walk far, either, and have to be careful walking up the stairs.

"I haven't been able to hold down a job and relationships have always been tricky.

"Thankfully Stephen is very supportive and caring - even if we have to be careful when we're together."

Woman with Hypermobility Syndrome