Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a group of inherited genetic disorders that affect your connective tissues, including primarily your skin, joints and blood vessel walls. Connective tissue is a complex mixture of proteins and other substances that provide strength and elasticity to the underlying structures in your body. People who have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome usually have extremely flexible joints and stretchy, fragile skin.
People with EDS have decreased tolerance to exercise, in part because exercise frequently causes increased pain due to severe joint laxity and instability. People with EDS tend to be less active and, as a result, tend to have muscular weakness and reduced cardiovascular fitness. Both children and adults with EDS are often less coordinated, and have reduced body awareness and balance compared to their peers. They also tend to report feeling clumsy and falling more often than healthy individuals.
Fatigue is also a common symptom for people with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, as are psychological symptoms, including depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. Problems with the autonomic (“fight or flight”) nervous system can lead to low blood pressure or high heart rate. Gastrointestinal issues include constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, and abdominal pain. Urinary incontinence is also common in both children and adults.
Physical Therapy with a focus on safe exercise to strengthen core and joint stabilizing musculature to protect vulnerable joints, improve body awareness and balance, and increase cardiovascular fitness should be a cornerstone of rehabilitation for EDS. Additional interventions including manual therapy techniques to relieve pain, kinesio taping for joint support and muscular facilitation, modalities, and use of bracing, orthotics or other durable medical equipment may be appropriate based on the specific needs of the patient.
If you are suffering from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), call our Eugene physical therapy office today to set up a consultation with a licensed physical therapist who can evaluate your needs and create a safe and effective treatment plan. At Mobility Project Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR, physical therapists are uniquely trained to provide the treatment and education you need to help you live your life with EDS as independently and comfortably as possible.