Mobility & Flexibility

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: An In-depth Look at the Condition

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Can individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome find relief through various non-surgical treatments to reduce joint instability?

Introduction

The joints and ligaments surrounding the musculoskeletal system allow the upper and lower extremities to stabilize the body and be mobile. The various muscles and soft connective tissues that surround the joints help protect them from injuries. When environmental factors or disorders start to affect the body, many people develop issues that cause overlapping risk profiles, which then affect the stability of the joints. One of the disorders that affect the joints and connective tissue is EDS or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. This connective tissue disorder can cause the joints in the body to be hypermobile. It can cause joint instability in the upper and lower extremities, thus leaving the individual to be in constant pain. Today’s article focuses on Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and its symptoms and how there are non-surgical ways to manage this connective tissue disorder. We discuss with certified medical providers who consolidate our patients’ information to assess how Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can correlate with other musculoskeletal disorders. We also inform and guide patients on how various non-surgical treatments can help reduce pain-like symptoms and manage Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. We also encourage our patients to ask their associated medical providers many intricate and important questions about incorporating various non-surgical therapies as part of their daily routine to manage the effects of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., includes this information as an academic service. Disclaimer.

 

What Is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?

 

Do you often feel extremely tired throughout the day, even after a full night of sleep? Do you bruise easily and wonder where these bruises are coming from? Or have you noticed that you have an increased range in your joints? Many of these issues are often correlated with a disorder known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or EDS that affects their joints and connective tissue. EDS affects the connective tissues in the body. The connective tissues in the body help provide strength and elasticity to the skin, joints, as well as blood vessel walls, so when a person is dealing with EDS, it can cause a significant disruption to the musculoskeletal system. EDS is largely diagnosed clinically, and many doctors have identified that the gene coding of the collagen and proteins that interact in the body can help determine what type of EDS affects the individual. (Miklovic & Sieg, 2024)

 

The Symptoms

When understanding EDS, it is essential to know the complexities of this connective tissue disorder. EDS is classified into numerous types with distinct features and challenges that vary depending on the severity. One of the most common types of EDS is hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. This type of EDS is characterized by general joint hypermobility, joint instability, and pain. Some of the symptoms that are associated with hypermobile EDS include subluxation, dislocations, and soft tissue injuries that are common and may occur spontaneously or with minimal trauma. (Hakim, 1993) This can often cause acute pain to the joints in the upper and lower extremities. With its broad range of symptoms and the personal nature of the condition itself, many often don’t realize that joint hypermobility is common in the general population and may present no complications that indicate that it is a connective tissue disorder. (Gensemer et al., 2021) Additionally, hypermobile EDS can lead to spinal deformity due to the hyperextensibility of the skin, joints, and various tissue fragility. The pathophysiology of spinal deformity associated with hypermobile EDS is primarily due to muscle hypotonia and ligament laxity. (Uehara et al., 2023) This causes many people to reduce their quality of life and daily living activities significantly. However, there are ways to manage EDS and its correlating symptoms to reduce joint instability.

 


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Ways To Manage EDS

When it comes to looking for ways to manage EDS to reduce pain and joint instability, non-surgical treatments can help address the physical and emotional aspects of the condition. Non-surgical treatments for individuals with EDS commonly focus on optimizing the body’s physical function while improving muscular strength and joint stabilization. (Buryk-Iggers et al., 2022) Many individuals with EDS will try to incorporate pain management techniques and physical therapy and use braces and assistive devices to reduce the effects of EDS and improve their quality of life.

 

Non-surgical Treatments For EDS

Various non-surgical treatments like MET (muscle energy technique), electrotherapy, light physical therapy, chiropractic care, and massages can help strengthen while toning the surrounding muscles around the joints, provide sufficient pain relief, and limit long-term dependence on medications. (Broida et al., 2021) Additionally, individuals dealing with EDS aim to strengthen the affected muscles, stabilize the joints, and improve proprioception. Non-surgical treatments allow the individual to have a customized treatment plan for the severity of EDS symptoms and help reduce the pain associated with the condition. Many individuals, when going through their treatment plan consecutively to manage their EDS and reduce the pain-like symptoms, will notice improvement in symptomatic discomfort. (Khokhar et al., 2023) This means that non-surgical treatments allow individuals to be more mindful of their bodies and reduce the pain-like effects of EDS, thus allowing many individuals with EDS to lead fuller, more comfortable lives without feeling pain and discomfort.

 


References

Broida, S. E., Sweeney, A. P., Gottschalk, M. B., & Wagner, E. R. (2021). Management of shoulder instability in hypermobility-type Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. JSES Rev Rep Tech, 1(3), 155-164. doi.org/10.1016/j.xrrt.2021.03.002

Buryk-Iggers, S., Mittal, N., Santa Mina, D., Adams, S. C., Englesakis, M., Rachinsky, M., Lopez-Hernandez, L., Hussey, L., McGillis, L., McLean, L., Laflamme, C., Rozenberg, D., & Clarke, H. (2022). Exercise and Rehabilitation in People With Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: A Systematic Review. Arch Rehabil Res Clin Transl, 4(2), 100189. doi.org/10.1016/j.arrct.2022.100189

Gensemer, C., Burks, R., Kautz, S., Judge, D. P., Lavallee, M., & Norris, R. A. (2021). Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndromes: Complex phenotypes, challenging diagnoses, and poorly understood causes. Dev Dyn, 250(3), 318-344. doi.org/10.1002/dvdy.220

Hakim, A. (1993). Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. In M. P. Adam, J. Feldman, G. M. Mirzaa, R. A. Pagon, S. E. Wallace, L. J. H. Bean, K. W. Gripp, & A. Amemiya (Eds.), GeneReviews((R)). www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20301456

Khokhar, D., Powers, B., Yamani, M., & Edwards, M. A. (2023). The Benefits of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment on a Patient With Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Cureus, 15(5), e38698. doi.org/10.7759/cureus.38698

Miklovic, T., & Sieg, V. C. (2024). Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. In StatPearls. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31747221

Uehara, M., Takahashi, J., & Kosho, T. (2023). Spinal Deformity in Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: Focus on Musculocontractural Type. Genes (Basel), 14(6). doi.org/10.3390/genes14061173

Disclaimer

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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: An In-depth Look at the Condition" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

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