Teenager has suffered 250 agonising joint dislocations – and her jaw even popped out of place while she was eating a burger

  • Nicola Lynch was diagnosed with the condition hypermobility syndrome
  • It means the 18-year-old’s joints dislocate, which is incredibly painful
  • She’s dislocated her shoulder 80 times in six years, since being diagnosed 
  • Regularly dislocates hips, ankles, her jaw and her thumbs too
  • The last time she enjoyed a burger for dinner she ended up in hospital 
  • She is left in agony as dislocations cause traumatic injuries 
  • Needs help with basic tasks like eating and says she cannot work 
  • She has even been accidentally injured by her fiance, Stephan Filmer, 22
  • As she gets older she will need to have operations to replace joints
  • Teenager says she lives in constant fear of ‘what will dislocate next’

For teenager Nicola Lynch the simple pleasure of enjoying dinner can leave her writhing in agony.

The last time the 18-year-old indulged in a burger she had to be rushed to hospital after her jaw dislocated and was left hanging out of place.

It was the latest in a 250-long list of agonising joint dislocations, Miss Lynch has suffered.

She suffers a medical condition known as hypermobility syndrome, which causes her joints to pop out of place without any warning.

In the last six years, since doctors diagnosed the condition, she has dislocated her shoulders 80 times.

Her thumbs have popped out of place 25 times each, and her hips and ankles regularly slip out of their sockets.

Nicola Lynch, 18, has dislocated her joints more than 250 times. She suffers from hypermobility syndrome, which means her joints dislocate more often than usual, leaving her in agony as most dislocations result in a traumatic injury

Nicola Lynch, 18, has dislocated her joints more than 250 times. She suffers from hypermobility syndrome, which means her joints dislocate more often than usual, leaving her in agony as most dislocations result in a traumatic injury

Hypermobility syndrome means Miss Lynch's joints have an unusually large range of movement. Some people with the joint condition have no pain, but unfortunately Miss Lynch has a severe form which means it does hurt each time she dislocates a joint. She is pictured showing her stretchy joints (left and right)

Hypermobility syndrome means Miss Lynch's joints have an unusually large range of movement. Some people with the joint condition have no pain, but unfortunately Miss Lynch has a severe form which means it does hurt each time she dislocates a joint. She is pictured showing her stretchy joints (left and right)

Hypermobility syndrome means Miss Lynch’s joints have an unusually large range of movement. Some people with the joint condition have no pain, but unfortunately Miss Lynch has a severe form which means it does hurt each time she dislocates a joint. She is pictured showing her stretchy joints (left and right)

Miss Lynch (right) is unable to work due to her condition, and struggles with every day tasks like brushing her hair and the ironing. Her fiance Stephan Filmer, 22, (left) assists her, although he has to be careful as he has accidentally injured her in the past when they were 'mucking around'

Miss Lynch (right) is unable to work due to her condition, and struggles with every day tasks like brushing her hair and the ironing. Her fiance Stephan Filmer, 22, (left) assists her, although he has to be careful as he has accidentally injured her in the past when they were ‘mucking around’

Every time she dislocates a joint, Miss Lynch is left in agony because unlike in double-jointed people, her condition causes traumatic injuries.

She is left unable to work due to her condition, and said she lives in fear, constantly worrying about which part of her body will dislocate next.

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.’

The fragile teenager was diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome, which means although she has an unusually large range of movement, her joints dislocate themselves regularly.

Hypermobility syndrome is thought to be caused by lack of collagen in skin and tissues, which leaves tissue fragile and joints particularly loose and stretchy.

Miss Lynch’s latest dislocation was just two weeks ago when her ankle gave way and she fell, dislocating that and also her shoulder.

In the past she has dislocated her hips about 50 times, and now her ankles pop out of their socket around three times a week.

WHAT IS JOINT HYPERMOBILITY?

Joint hypermobility means some or all of a person’s joints have an unusually large range of movement.

People with hypermobility are particularly supple and able to move their limbs into positions others find impossible.

Many people with hypermobile joints do not have any problems or need treatment.

However, joint hypermobility can sometimes cause unpleasant symptoms, such as:

  • joint pain
  • back pain
  • dislocated joints – when the joint comes out if its correct position
  • soft tissue injuries, such as tenosynovitis (inflammation of the protective sheath around a tendon)

It can cause extreme tiredness and long-term pain. The condition is often hereditary, and is linked to changes in a protein called collagen.

Collagen is found throughout the body – for example, in skin and ligaments.

If collagen is weaker than it should be, tissues in the body will be fragile. This can make ligaments and joints particularly loose and stretchy.

There are estimates that up to three in 10 people may be affected to some degree.

Source: NHS Choices

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

She 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.’

She met her fiance Stephan Filmer through friends and started dating about 15 months ago.

Mr Filmer, a greenkeeper, got down on one knee on their one-year anniversary.

Miss Lynch said: ‘I wasn’t expecting it at all, but it was wonderful.

‘I can’t really get down on one knee in case something pops out, but he did and it was lovely.

‘He’s so supportive of me and really understands that there are certain things I can’t do because of my condition.’

But he also has to be careful around her because her fragile joints mean he’s accidentally caused several dislocations while ‘mucking around’.

Miss Lynch 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.’

Each time she dislocates her joint, which often happens carrying out basic tasks, she suffers a traumatic injury. She is pictured (left) struggling to pick up a bag, and with her arm in a sling (right) after a dislocation

Each time she dislocates her joint, which often happens carrying out basic tasks, she suffers a traumatic injury. She is pictured (left) struggling to pick up a bag, and with her arm in a sling (right) after a dislocation

Each time she dislocates her joint, which often happens carrying out basic tasks, she suffers a traumatic injury. She is pictured (left) struggling to pick up a bag, and with her arm in a sling (right) after a dislocation

Some people with hypermobility are able to stretch much further than normal. But the syndrome form of the condition, which Miss Lynch suffers, is more severe as it causes pain.

Miss Lynch 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 Stephan is very supportive and caring – even if we have to be careful when we’re together.’

Miss Lynch has dislocated her shoulders 80 times, her hips  50 times, her thumbs 25 time, and now her ankles pop out of their socket around three times a week. Here, she is pictured struggling with brushing her hair

Miss Lynch has dislocated her shoulders 80 times, her hips 50 times, her thumbs 25 time, and now her ankles pop out of their socket around three times a week. Here, she is pictured struggling with brushing her hair

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