Grateful to be on the upswing after a tough EDS pain flare

Massage and rest are key to this columnist's recovery

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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After a tough couple of weeks, life is finally starting to settle back down for me. I’m less stressed, my bruises from a recent fall are healing, and I’m feeling better. It’s taken some time, but I’m on the upswing.

During an Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) pain flare, which I recently experienced, I don’t feel hungry and my chronic fatigue worsens. I also seem to retain water and feel bloated. These types of symptoms aren’t really noticeable to others.

I mentioned this to my massage therapist, who suspected that they happen because my inflammatory system is in overdrive. That makes sense, as these symptoms always dissipate a few days after I have bodywork done.

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Pain flares are tough, because they always seem to snowball. They can be prompted by a physical incident, because I’m stressed or tired, or sometimes for no discernible reason at all.

If an injury prompts a pain flare, it can affect my mood and energy. On the flip side, if I’m stressed out and exhausted, it can lead to pain. Once these issues start playing off each other, the process can be difficult to stop.

I’ve found it beneficial to remind myself that pain flares and anxiety or stress are interrelated. (People with EDS are more likely to have anxiety than the general population.) Understanding this helps me to manage flares, although it doesn’t make them disappear entirely.

Once physical symptoms appear, the only thing that seems to get things under control again is bodywork. This might not work for everyone, but for me, massage is key to keeping my pain levels under control and my body as functional as possible.

I also must focus on getting enough sleep. Even if I don’t like to, when I’m in a pain flare, sometimes I must give in to my body’s need for sleep. I feel a lot better after bodywork and a few nights of solid sleep.

I’m happy to be moving in the right direction. As the weather starts to feel more like spring, I can spend more time outdoors. Being outside and doing farm chores is my happy place, and now that I’m feeling better, I’m looking forward to doing more of it.

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Patty avatar


Thank you Karen for sharing your experience in such a well written thoughtful way! I am totally with your experiences and so happy you are feeling better and have your massage therapist to help!


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