You’ve most likely heard someone boast that they’re “double-jointed,” then watched them bend their fingers back in a seemingly uncomfortable manner.

The way their fingers bent may have looked painful, but for those people with flexible joints, it’s not. But despite a common belief, they don’t have double the number of joints. Rather, they have more flexibility than the average person. You may hear various techinal terms for it, such as hypermobility, hyperlaxity, joint laxity, loose joints, or hypermobility syndrome.

Read: 10 Genetic Mutations That Can Give People ‘Superhuman’ Abilities: Super Flexibility, Resistance To Fat, And More

If you’re curious why some people have this ability, and others don’t, check out SciShow’s video below, titled “Why Are Some People Double-Jointed?”

There’s a number of reasons why some people may have more bendy joints than others. One reason is because the person is born with joints, the area where two bones come together, that are more shallow than usual. One type of joint is called the ball-and-socket joint, which is found in your elbows, hips, and shoulder. As host Stefan Chin explains in the video above, this type of joint involves a ball-shape on the end of one bone that fits into an indentation at the end of another. The more shallow the indentation, the greater the flexibility the joint has.

Another cause for hypermobility is having cartilage that is very elastic. Cartilage is a firm, whitish, flexible connective tissue that’s located between most joints and other areas of the body. Hyperlaxity can also be due to unusually flexible ligaments, the connective tissue that connects bones to other bones to form joints.

A few genetic conditions can also cause defects in these tissues that lead to loose joints. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, also called EDS or elastic skin, affects connective tissues, mainly skin, joints, and blood vessel walls. People with EDS have overly flexible joints that can lead to joint dislocations and early-onset arthritis.

Dislocating a joint is a painful experience that’s caused by the ends of your bones being forced from their normal positions. It happens most often in shoulders and fingers, but it can also occur in elbows, knees, and hips. Dislocated joints require medical attention. A doctor will usually take an X-ray to confirm the dislocation. An MRI is sometimes done too, to see if there is any damage to the soft tissue in the surrounding area. Some other complications of joint dislocation can include: muscle tears, nerve or blood vessel damage in or around the joint, and susceptibility to reinjury if it’s a severe dislocation.

A doctor will likely give you some recommendations to help ease your discomfort and to encourage a speedy recovery. Common suggestions are to rest your dislocated joint, apply ice and heat to the area, take an over-the-counter pain reliever if necessary, and to gently exercise your joint in order to maintain its range of motion.

If treated properly, most dislocations will be healed after several weeks of rest and rehabilitation, according to Mayo Clinic. But, certain joints, like your shoulder may be more likely to experience future dislocations.

See also: Snap, Crackle, Pop: MRI Shows Why Joints Make Knuckle-Cracking Pop Sound

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