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Ehlers-Danlos/Hypermobility

Back Pain

What is it?

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a group of rare genetic disorders that affect the connective tissues in the body. One of the subtypes of EDS is called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome hypermobility type (EDS-HT), formerly known as EDS type III. EDS-HT is characterized by joint hypermobility, which means that the affected individual's joints can move beyond the normal range of motion. Hypermobility in the joints can lead to various symptoms and complications.

Here are some key features of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome hypermobility type:

  1. Joint Hypermobility: Joint hypermobility is the hallmark feature of EDS-HT. It means that the affected person's joints are more flexible than usual, which can result in joints that easily bend or extend beyond the normal range of motion. This increased joint mobility can lead to joint pain, instability, and a higher risk of joint dislocations or subluxations (partial dislocations).

  2. Chronic Pain: Many individuals with EDS-HT experience chronic pain, particularly in the joints and muscles. This pain can be debilitating and have a significant impact on daily activities.

  3. Other Symptoms: EDS-HT can be associated with a range of other symptoms, including fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, cardiovascular problems, and easy bruising.

Benign Hypermobility Syndrome (BHS): Some people with joint hypermobility may not meet all the criteria for an EDS diagnosis but may still experience joint pain and other symptoms. In such cases, they may be diagnosed with Benign Hypermobility Syndrome, which shares some similarities with EDS-HT.

"She has tremendous expertise, an ability to think outside the box and a true understanding of different PT issues. She is very knowledgeable on pain, manual therapy, pelvic floor conditions and hypermobility/ EDS. You can trust her to invest in your wellness."

Sonia

How Does Physical Therapy Help?

The instability associated with hypermobility can cause the muscles and surrounding areas to become tight and painful in response, seeking stability through constant contraction of them muscles. Overtime, this tightness can cause chronic pain in many areas, including the pelvic floor, and can also lead to dysfunctions in the bowel or bladder. At WWPT, we consider the system comprehensively and recognize that the pain in your left shoulder can absolutely be related to dysfunction in your right hip (as a basic example). Our assessment and treatment approaches value movement function as a whole, not as individual parts.

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy is a specialization that involves total-body assessment and employment of manual therapies, therapeutic modalities, corrective exercises, breathing techniques, pain neuroscience education, lifestyle/behavior medicine, and basic nutrition advice to address symptoms in the abdomen, back, hips, legs, and pelvic region. It can be helpful for women with hypermobility by relieving pain, improving bowel and bladder function, increasing overall pelvic stability, empowering the woman with self-treatment techniques and education, and increasing her quality of life by assisting her to return to function and daily movement in a pain-free way. ​

Many of the women whom we work with at WWPT also experience swelling in the abdomen, legs, and pelvis due to laxity in the venous system and poor return of blood flow. Dr. Jasia, a Certified Lymphedema Therapist, is specialty trained in the treatment of swelling through the use of Manual Lymphatic Drainage and Complete Decongestive Therapy. She can also recommend specific compression garments for the legs, torso, and vulva to help control symptoms, as well as educate in self-massage techniques and specialized exercises for improving blood return.

 

Another condition, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), is also common in the women we see with EDS-HT. Symptoms of POTS have been shown in studies to improve greatly with strengthening and cardiovascular exercise over time, but the tricky part is, exercise can also worsen symptoms in the short term for many women. At WWPT, we help each individual woman design a progressive program which is easily tolerated, safe, and manageable for her specific symptoms, needs, and capabilities.

 

 

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