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.
  • Relieving pain.
  • 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.

Physiotherapeutic interventions

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

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

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

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

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, and acupressure.

 

Last updated: Oct. 15, 2019

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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 other 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.

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Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.