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Alphabet Soup: A Look at hypermobility acronyms and terminology

Updated: Jun 27

Ever heard of "alphabet soup"? It’s a term that comes up a lot when talking about confusing mixtures of abbreviations and acronyms. According to the Oxford Learner's Dictionaries (, it refers to a jumble of letters, especially when you're dealing with lots of symbols or abbreviations.


The idea of alphabet soup goes way back to the New Deal era of Franklin D. Roosevelt. During that time, the U.S. government created tons of agencies, each with their own acronym like NSA, CIA, FBI, and so on. It got so out of hand that in 1938, a barbershop harmony group named themselves SPEBSQSA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America) as a joke about all the government acronyms.


In the world of academics, this “alphabet soup” can get pretty tricky. Take statistical testing, for instance. There’s a lot of talk about \( p \)-values (which tell us about probability) and \( \alpha \)-levels (which set our thresholds for significance). It can get pretty confusing with all those letters flying around. The same goes for the medical field, where there are so many types of pneumonia with their own acronyms that researchers need detailed articles just to keep things straight.



The history of medical terminology also contributes to this phenomenon. Hippocrates, around 400 BC, mentioned in 'Airs and Graces' that Scythian nomad warriors had joint laxity and poor wound healing, observations that align more with what we now know. In 1901, Dr. Edvard Ehlers and in 1908, Dr. Henri-Alexandre Danlos presented findings at a presentation or a Paper that contributed to the understanding of Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (EDS), hence this name now.


In 1967, Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS) was initially described as only a musculoskeletal condition. Later, it evolved into Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (BJHS) and was eventually linked with EDS, specifically the hypermobility type (EDS-HT). In 1998, the Villefranche nosology published by Beighton et al. classified nine types of EDS. By 2017, the International Consortium expanded this classification to include 13 types of EDS, including hypermobile EDS (hEDS). This is identified primarily by generalised joint hypermobility (GJH) along with other key criteria and symptoms, and four types of Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD). In 2023 more acronyms for children and young people were categorised instead of hEDS, so we have paediatric Generalised Joint Hypermobility (pGJH) and paediatric Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (pgHSD) until they reach the age of maturity approx. 18.

So, whether you're dealing with doctors, legal papers, academic papers, or in social media chat rooms, it seems like alphabet soup has been a part of our lives for a long time!

Green J

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