A Comprehensive Review: Chronic Pain Sequelae in the Presence of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
Curr Pain Headache Rep
25 November 2022
Purpose of review: Patients diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS), and especially those with the hypermobility subtype, often experience a diverse range of acute and chronic pain conditions throughout their lifetime. These can present in a variety of different phenotypes and comorbidities, making it difficult to develop structured treatment protocols. This review seeks to summarize the current literature to address old and novel treatments for EDS.
Recent findings: Historically, medications and surgery have been used to treat patients with EDS but with low efficacy. Newer therapies that have shown promising effects for both decreasing pain and increasing quality of life include physical/occupational therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation units, trigger point injections, low-dose naltrexone, and laser therapy. In addition, addressing the psychosocial aspects of pain with EDS through methods like cognitive behavioral therapy and patient education has shown to be vital in minimizing pain. Most research also emphasizes that pain management should not only focus on pain reduction, but on helping reduce symptoms of hypermobility, central sensitization, and fatigue to make an impactful difference. Research on pain in EDS is still limited with good clinical practice guidelines often limited by poor sample size and lack of clinical studies. Treatment options should be structured based on the specific type of pain pathology and presenting symptoms of each patient and their comorbidities. Future research should attempt to prioritize larger sample sizes, clear definitions of EDS subtypes, randomized trials for treatment efficacy, and more studies dedicated to non-musculoskeletal forms of pain.
Keywords: Anesthesiology; Chronic pain; Ehlers–Danlos syndrome; Hypermobility; Pain medicine; Treatments.