Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a complex genetic disorder that doctors are just beginning to identify. One of the hallmarks of the syndrome, however, is that sufferers experience hypermobility and instability in their joints. This leads to chronic problems with a person's gross motor controls, balance, and pain.
Can physical therapy help someone with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome? Absolutely. Here are some of the things you can expect if you decide to give it a try:
A Comprehensive Assessment of Your Physical Stresses
Before you start any kind of treatment, a physical therapist will evaluate the way that you walk, stand, sit, and move to try to identify specific problems that may affect your comfort level and your ability to physically function. They will look for:
- Imbalances between your joints and muscles, which can come from muscles tightening up to try to hold lax joints in place
- Problems with your posture or the way that you walk and sit that may be creating additional stress on your joints and muscles
- Problems with your gross motor controls that may be increasing the instability in your joints when you walk, bend, lift, and carry out other essential motions
Once they have finished the evaluation, they may be able to help you identify some of the sources of your referred pain and come up with a game plan to minimize the problems you face in the future.
A Treatment Strategy That Can Improve Your Joint Stability
Smoothly functioning joints are the key to minimizing both the chronic pain that you feel with EDS and the potential for life-altering accidents. With that in mind, your physical therapist may recommend treatment that includes:
- Muscle strengthening: Your muscles provide most of the stability to your joints, so strengthening key muscles around those joints (without making them tight) is essential.
- Manual therapy: Gentle manipulation and massage can help reduce the inflammation in your tissues, soothe aggravated nerves, and help control chronic pain.
- Balance training: When your joints don't want to stay in place, it's easy to learn bad habits while you move and walk. Balance training can help you eliminate those and reduce the chance of a bad fall.
- Orthotic care: Braces and taping can provide much-needed external support to joints that are particularly loose or weak. It takes know-how and practice, however, to get the process right so that you don't make your joint issues worse.
If you or your loved one suffers from EDS or another hypermobility disorder, find out more about how physical therapy can improve your quality of life.