Ehlers Danlos Syndrome -EDS -
Hypermobile EDS-hEDS and Physiotherapy
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is the name given to a group of connective tissue disorders caused by mutations in genes that encode for collagen protein components or collagen-associated proteins. These mutations result in collagen deficiency and reduce the strength of ligaments, muscles, tendons, skin, and blood vessels.
EDS is characterized by symptoms such as hypermobile joints, fatigue, pain, elastic skin, increased risk of injury, dislocations, flat feet, poor posture and balance, and spinal deformities. These symptoms significantly affect the quality of life of patients.
Goals of physiotherapy
Physiotherapy is highly recommended for EDS patients to help them with everyday activities.
The goals of physiotherapy include:
Treating acute soft tissue lesions and injuries.
Teaching patients how to manage their condition independently and with minimal reliance on medications.
Improving endurance and strengthening joint-stabilizing muscles.
Improving balance, stamina, coordination, and general fitness.
Improving posture and gait to prevent or correct abnormalities.
Facilitating normal functioning in daily life.
Physiotherapy interventions can vary widely depending on the structural deformities and symptoms exhibited by EDS patients. In general, a multidirectional approach is used to overcome or decrease the patient’s disabilities.
Physiotherapeutic approaches include:
Low resistance training and EDS
Low resistance training can increase muscle tone and strength, and joint stability and, over time, counteract excessive joint, ligament, tendon, and muscle laxity.
In patients with kyphoscoliosis (spine deformity), strengthening exercises, especially for the shoulder girdle, can be helpful.
Knee strengthening exercises can improve strength and function, and decrease pain.
Aerobic training can improve muscle tone, prevent acute joint dislocations, and relieve chronic joint and muscle pain. It includes walking, cycling, low-impact and water aerobics, and swimming.
Aqua therapy/Hydrotherapy and EDS
Aqua therapy is considered highly beneficial because water is a good medium to perform gentle strengthening exercises, and to help ease aches and pain. Water exercises can improve cardiovascular fitness and proprioception (sense of self-movement and body position) in EDS patients.
Other therapies can also help relieve chronic joint and muscle pain in EDS patients. They include massages, hot or cold packs, electrotherapies such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, acupuncture, skin suits, strapping , bracing and acupressure.