Background The prevalence of Generalised Joint Laxity (GJL) in adolescent male athletes along with its relation to injury incidence in a sporting environment are unknown despite commonly held clinical and coaching beliefs. The degree of joint laxity is often measured using the Beighton scale which quantifies the presence of hyperlaxity in 9 clinically applied physical tests giving a score from 0–9. Two clinical categorisations are described defining GJL as a cut-off score of either 4 or 5/9.
Purpose To prospectively examine the relation between joint laxity and injury in adolescent athletes participating in contact and, non-contact sports.
Methods During routine pre-participation medical screening, 226 adolescent male athletes (mean age: 14.2 years SD: 1.7, Range: 10–18) at a Middle Eastern Athletic Academy had Beighton scores documented both as absolute values, and with both classifications. Athletes were considered as playing contact (Football and Combat sports) and Non-contact sports. Over the ensuing year, injuries related to sporting participation were recorded.
Results The greatest relative risk for injury was found to be in participating in a contact sport (HRR: 1.58 [95% CI: 1.30–1.92]). Within the entire cohort, there was a very small, non-significant effect of Generalised Joint Laxity on injury incidence; HRR=1.004 (0.95–1.06), and no effect of injury severity according to laxity classification (P>.37).
Conclusion: Generalised Joint Laxity is not related to a significantly elevated injury risk, or injury severity for these adolescent male athletes.
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