Why Do I Get Injured So Easily? Ehler-Danlos A Missed Cause of Chronic Pain
It’s no secret that my practice caters to a lot of people that have chronic pain syndromes. Chronic pain is a complex problem because it’s usually an invisible illness. For these patients, MRIs are usually negative, standard blood panels are normal, and just looking at the person, there’s no obvious signs that the patient is sick and suffering.
One particular problem that I’ve noticed recently is a subset of a rare problem called Ehler-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). Here are some of the signs and symptoms:
- Wide spread muscle pain
- Frequent sprains or strains with minimal contact
- Easy bruising
- Early onset osteoarthritis (20’s and 30’s)
- Frequent tearing of muscles or tendons
- Hyperelastic skin
- Scoliosis and other spinal deformities
- Thin skin
Ehler-Danlos is a genetic disorder that disrupts the normal production of collagen and connective tissue in your body. It’s easy to underestimate the importance of connective tissue because it’s not an artery, nerve, vein, muscle, or bone. The problem is that all of those other bodily tissues are made out of connective tissue.
A small problem with the genes that make connective tissue can impact your ability to heal from wounds. They can make your joints loose, unstable, and prone to injury. It may also lead your body age faster from a degeneration perspective.
How Does This Affect Your Chiropractic Care?
I first started paying attention to this disorder after talking to a friend with severe EDS. Her version of EDS was so severe that small cuts could continue bleeding for hours and cause more significant problems. It also made routine surgeries extremely complicated. She was talking about her experience with chiropractic and how it always helped her, but her joints wouldn’t maintain a healthy position for very long.
I thought about what she said, and I started to recognize many of my patients who had a lot of dificulty with maintaining their structural correction. I’m used to having many of my patients who are on maintenance programs go weeks and months without needing an atlas correction. Yet, there were small clusters of people who couldn’t maintain their alignment for more than a week.
It seemed like a shoulder, ankle, or elbow would tend to go out more easily and with less force than expected. Runners would get continuous flare ups of plantar fascitis or knee pain than normal.
I started testing to see if these patients had hypermobile joints, and a good portion of these people showed an ability that they usually classifeid as being double jointed. After an evaluation with a rheumatologist and some genetic testing, it confirmed that they had some form of connective tissue disorder related to EDS.
EDS can vary quite significantly from person to person. Some patients will bruise with little to no pressure at all. Others have seemingly no problems at all.
Many of the EDS patients I’ve seen respond great to chiropractic care, especailly with a lighter force protocol like NUCCA. It has done wonders for people in controlling their wide spread muscle pain, fibromyalgia-type symptoms, and even dysautonomia symptoms like vertigo and tachycardia.
What Does That Mean if It’s You?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure yet for EDS. Fotunately, most people who have EDS will live a normal lifespan, but will be more susceptible to pain and injury than the average person. More severe forms of EDS that affect the vascular system will need more attention and care to prevent a minor injury from getting out of hand.
While chiropractic isn’t for the treatment of EDS, it can help a person with EDS live a healthier and higher quality of life with proper structure. That structure may just need a little more tune-up than the average person.
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Dr. Chung is a practicing Structural Chiropractor in the West Palm Beach area. He has been published in peer reviewed scientific journals and is a sought after speaker in health and wellness. Follow his blog at http://chiropractorwellington.com/category/keystone-chiropractic-blog/ or find him on twitter at @drjonathanchung