Physiotherapy for EDS: What to Expect

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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Physiotherapy is one of the treatments that may help patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a rare genetic disease that affects the connective tissues providing structure to areas of the body that include the joints.

Because of the loss of this structure, EDS patients can easily overextend and dislocate their joints, a problem known as joint hypermobility. Physiotherapy can help these people build more muscle around joints to provide the missing support, and to improve posture and movement so that dislocations are less likely.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your physiotherapy sessions, and know what to expect during the sessions.

How to prepare for the first session?

Wear comfortable clothing that is easy to move in. Make sure that you are well-hydrated and well-rested.

Bring your prescription or referral from your primary care physician, as well as your insurance card if your insurance is paying for the session.

If you are recovering from an injury such as a dislocation, bring any support devices that you are currently using — like braces or slings — to the session.

What happens during the first session?

The first physiotherapy session usually starts with a physical examination. The physiotherapist may test your flexibility and range of motion, as well as your physical strength.

The therapist may ask you to go through a few supervised exercises, and discuss your short- and long-term goals for the treatment. For example, a short-term goal may be to recover strength and range of motion following a dislocation, while a long-term goal might be to learning what regular exercises you can do to make future dislocations less likely.

What happens after the session?

You may feel tired after the session, with some achy muscles. If you feel severe aches or pains, notify your physiotherapist and physician.

The therapist will design an exercise program that you can do at home, which will help you maintain muscle strength and improve your flexibility and range of motion. This type of “homework” is common, but it specifics differ depending on each patient’s needs.

What happens in future sessions?

The therapist will ask you whether the exercises are working for you, and if any are too difficult or too easy. If you have problems completing any of the exercises, inform your therapist, who can modify the exercises accordingly.

For some patients, braces or other support devices may need to be part of daily life. Your physical therapist can help you incorporate these devices into your daily routines.


Last updated: Oct. 10, 2019


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