Overly mobile joints? Suspect that you might have Ehler-Danlos Syndrome?
Read below to why physical therapy might be right for you!
What is Ehler-Danlos Syndrome?
Ehler-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a group of connective tissue disorders that affect how collagen is made and used in the body. Collagen is a protein that provides strength and elasticity to tissues. There are various forms of EDS and common symptoms include loose joints, overly stretchy skin, and chronic musculoskeletal pain.
What’s so bad about being hypermobile?
First, patients living with Ehler-Danlos Syndrome are more prone to joint dislocations, subluxations. and may have increased difficulties with everyday tasks. Secondly, patients are also at risk for decreased balance, due to lack of strength and stability. This puts you at risk for more falls!
Additionally, daily activities like carrying groceries, yard work, or housework may be difficult due to the lack of stability in various joints leading to discomfort and pain while performing these activities. Constant feelings of discomfort or pain over time can lead to frustration and decrease a person’s quality of life. Depending on the EDS subtype, patients might even be at risk for digestive issues, gum disease, and ruptured vessels.
So, how do I know if I have Ehler-Danlos Syndrome?
Ehler-Danlos Syndrome/ Hypermobility disorders are commonly misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed. Therefore, a quick hypermobility questionnaire can be completed to help predict the presence of hypermobility (Hakim, 2017).
- 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?
If you answered “yes” to 2 or more of the questions above, there is a high prediction of hypermobility.
How can physical therapy help?
If you suspect that you may have Ehler-Danlos Syndrome, physical therapy might be a great option for you! Particularly, physical therapists can use a variety of different treatment methods to decrease pain, increase strength, and help stabilize joints. In addition, they can help improve your quality of life by teaching you ways to modify activity, and help guide you with a proper exercise program to help decrease the likelihood of joint dislocations.
Also, they can help address deficits with balance and help prevent future falls. Studies show that after completing an exercise program that incorporates strength and balance exercises, patients have decreased pain, better balance, more strength, and an improved quality of life (Ferrell et al., 2004). Less pain and increased stability will help make daily activities more tolerable.
Some examples of treatments that may help a patient with EDS are: electrical stimulation, dry needling, myofascial release, and joint stabilizing exercises. Lastly, Ohio has direct access, meaning that you do not need a doctor’s referral to see a physical therapist!
If you would like more information, you can visit activeptcolumbus.com , and see how physical therapy can help make a difference in your life.
Hakim, Alan J., Dr. “Latest News.” Hypermobility Syndromes Association » Beighton Score. N.p., Mar. 2017. Web. 30 July 2017.
“What are the Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes?” The Ehlers Danlos Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 July 2017.
W.R. Ferrell, N. Tennant, R.G. Sturrock, L. Ashton, G. Creed, G. Brydson, et al. Amelioration of symptoms by enhancement of proprioception in patients with joint hypermobility syndrome. Arthritis Rheum, 50 (10) (2004), pp. 3323-3328
Written by Alyssa Sharrer, Active Physical Therapy Summer 2017 Intern