The Beighton Score

The Beighton Score or Test is a scoring system that has been used for many years as an indicator of widespread hypermobility, and can be carried out in a non clinical setting to gain an indication as to whether hypermobility should be considered by medics. As a clinical tool it can be a quick and straightforward test to carry out, but there are three very important qualifications to be remembered when using the test as part of an assessment for hypermobility or the more serious Hyper Mobility Syndrome

  • A high Beighton score by itself does not mean that an individual has a hyper mobility syndrome. Other symptoms and signs also need to be present.
  • A low score should be considered with caution when assessing someone for widespread pain as hypermobility can be present at a number of sites that are not counted in the Beighton score. For example, this can be at the jaw joint (the ‘TMJ’), neck (cervical spine), shoulders, mid (thoracic) spine, hips, ankles and feet. 
  • The patient's historic ability to fulfill any of the Beighton criteria should also be taken into account, as long term injury may be preventing the patient from carrying out movements they once could.

The Beighton score is calculated as follows (scored out of 9)

One point if palms can be placed on the ground while standing bent forward with legs straight

One point for each elbow that bends backwards (2 points in total)

One point for each knee that bends backwards (2 points in total)

One point for each thumb that touches the forearm when bent backwards (2 points in total)

One point for each little finger that bends backwards beyond 90 degrees (2 points in total)

A score of 5 or more out of 9 is considered high enough to warrant a diagnosis of generalised hypermobility. Where this score is accompanied by wide spread pain and/or chronic injury, further investigations will be required to ascertain a diagnosis of Hyper Mobility Syndrome.

The Beighton test can be applied alongside some simple questions that can also help to indicate whether a person has generalised hypermobility.
  • Can you now (or could you ever) place your hands flat on the floor without bending your knees?
  • Can you now (or could you ever) bend your thumb to touch your forearm?
  • As a child did you amuse your friends by contorting your body into strange shapes OR could you do the splits?
  • As a child or teenager did your shoulder or kneecap dislocate on more than one occasion?
  • Do you consider yourself double-jointed?
It is important to remember however that these tests alone are not enough to warrant a diagnosis of Hyper Mobility Syndrome - they merely indicate that a person has hyper mobile joints. For a diagnosis of the syndrome to made, other symptoms must also be present.

For an explanation of the difference between Hypermobility and Hyper Mobility Syndrome, see Hyper Mobility and Hyper Mobility Syndrome – What are they and what’s the difference between them?