Alternative and Complementary Treatments for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS)?
Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a group of inherited medical conditions that affect` connective tissues in the body. EDS manifests as weak or insufficient collagen in the body’s tissues. This prevents connective tissues from adequately supporting body structures, including — but not limited to — the skin, joints and blood vessels. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is classified into 13 types based on the specific symptoms and the affected part(s) of the body; treatment is based on the specific type of EDS.
Alternative and complementary treatments
In addition to conventional medical treatments for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), such as medication and physical therapy, alternative and complementary treatments are also available.
Individuals with EDS may benefit from psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Through the process of CBT, individuals learn how to change their thought and behavior patterns to positively affect their daily lives. CBT may help individuals with EDS cope with the pain, negative feelings and poor emotional regulation that often occur with EDS. CBT has proven to be effective in EDS-related conditions, such as depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) may also improve the psychological well-being of individuals with EDS. The practice of mindfulness meditation may help individuals with chronic illnesses gain a sense of control over pain and cope with any difficulties that may arise.
Lifestyle modifications can be extremely helpful in the management of EDS pain. Modifications include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Improving work ergonomics (focused on protecting joints and reducing pain)
- Practicing good sleep hygiene
- Avoiding smoking
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
Various supplements have been shown to be effective in dealing with some symptoms of EDS (issues with joints, skin and blood vessels):
- Coenzyme Q10
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
Individuals should consult a physician or pharmacist before adding any kind of nutritional supplement to their treatment plan.
Joint instability may lead to muscle spasms, which may cause some of the pain experienced with EDS. Relaxing the muscles often reduces this pain. Techniques to relax the muscles include the following:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Myofascial release
- Epsom salt baths
These alternative and complementary treatments may help manage the symptoms of EDS, especially when used in combination with conventional medical treatments.