Connection Between Ehlers Danlos and Fibromyalgia: Exploring the Link

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What Makes You Feel Chronic Pain

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and Fibromyalgia are two chronic conditions that have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. EDS is a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissues of the body, leading to joint hypermobility, skin elasticity, and other symptoms. Fibromyalgia, on the other hand, is a neurological disorder that causes widespread pain, fatigue, and cognitive impairment.

Although EDS and Fibromyalgia are distinct conditions, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that they may be related. For example, studies have found that individuals with EDS are more likely to develop Fibromyalgia, and that there may be a genetic link between the two conditions. Additionally, many of the symptoms of EDS and Fibromyalgia overlap, such as joint pain, fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues.

Understanding the relationship between EDS and Fibromyalgia is important for both patients and healthcare professionals. By recognizing the potential link between these conditions, doctors may be better equipped to provide a more accurate diagnosis and develop a more effective treatment plan. Furthermore, patients who suffer from both EDS and Fibromyalgia may benefit from a more holistic approach to treatment that addresses the underlying causes of both conditions.

Understanding Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a group of genetic connective tissue disorders that affect collagen production, leading to tissue fragility and joint hypermobility. There are several subtypes of EDS, with the most common being hypermobile EDS (hEDS) and classical EDS (cEDS).

Individuals with hEDS often have hypermobile joints, meaning their joints can move beyond the normal range of motion. This can lead to joint pain and instability, as well as an increased risk of dislocations and subluxations. In addition to joint hypermobility, individuals with hEDS may also experience skin hyperextensibility, easy bruising, and gastrointestinal issues.

On the other hand, individuals with cEDS often have skin that is thin, easily bruised, and hyperextensible, as well as joint hypermobility. They may also experience joint dislocations and subluxations, as well as scoliosis and other spinal issues.

EDS is caused by mutations in genes that are involved in collagen production and structure. Collagen is a protein that provides strength and support to various tissues in the body, including skin, tendons, ligaments, and organs. When collagen production or structure is disrupted, it can lead to the various symptoms and complications associated with EDS.

It is important to note that EDS is often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed, as many healthcare professionals are not familiar with the condition. Additionally, EDS can present differently in different individuals, making it a challenging condition to diagnose and manage.

Overall, understanding EDS and its various subtypes is crucial for healthcare professionals in order to accurately diagnose and manage the condition, as well as provide appropriate support and resources for individuals with EDS.

Common Symptoms and Overlaps

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and Fibromyalgia (FM) share some common symptoms and overlaps. These symptoms can be debilitating and affect the quality of life of those who suffer from them.

One of the most common symptoms that both EDS and FM patients experience is pain. Pain can be chronic, musculoskeletal, and widespread in both conditions. The pain can be so severe that it can interfere with daily activities and make it difficult to sleep. In addition to pain, fatigue is another common symptom that both EDS and FM patients experience. Fatigue can be so severe that it can make it difficult to carry out even the simplest of tasks.

Joints are also affected in both EDS and FM. Joint pain is a common symptom in both conditions. Patients with EDS can experience hypermobility in their joints, while FM patients can experience stiffness and limited range of motion. In addition to joint pain, headaches and migraines are also common in both conditions.

Anxiety and depression are also common symptoms in both EDS and FM. The chronic pain and fatigue that patients experience can lead to anxiety and depression. Patients may also experience sleep disturbance, restlessness, and dyspareunia.

Scarring is also a symptom that is common in EDS patients. Patients with EDS can have fragile skin that can tear easily, leading to scarring. However, scarring is not a symptom of FM.

In conclusion, EDS and FM share some common symptoms and overlaps. Pain, fatigue, joint pain, headaches, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, restlessness, and dyspareunia are all symptoms that can be present in both conditions. However, scarring is a symptom that is unique to EDS.

Diagnosis Process

Diagnosing Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and Fibromyalgia can be challenging due to the overlap of symptoms and the lack of definitive diagnostic tests. However, there are several methods that can be used to help diagnose these conditions.

The diagnosis of EDS is typically made through a combination of clinical evaluation and genetic testing. A physical exam is performed to assess joint hypermobility, skin elasticity, and other physical features associated with EDS. Genetic testing can confirm the diagnosis of EDS and identify the specific subtype of the condition.

Fibromyalgia, on the other hand, is diagnosed based on a combination of symptoms and exclusion of other conditions. There is no specific blood test or imaging study that can confirm the diagnosis of fibromyalgia. However, blood tests may be ordered to rule out other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and endometriosis.

In addition to a physical exam, doctors may use a symptom checklist to help diagnose both EDS and fibromyalgia. The Beighton Score is a commonly used checklist to assess joint hypermobility in EDS. The American College of Rheumatology has also developed a set of criteria for diagnosing fibromyalgia based on the presence of widespread pain and other symptoms.

MRI scans may also be used to diagnose EDS by identifying joint abnormalities and other structural defects. However, MRI scans are not typically used to diagnose fibromyalgia.

In conclusion, the diagnosis process for EDS and fibromyalgia can be complex and requires a comprehensive evaluation of symptoms and physical features. While there is no definitive test for either condition, a combination of clinical evaluation, genetic testing, and symptom assessment can help diagnose and differentiate between these two conditions.

consult doctor about sleep problems

Treatment Options

There is currently no cure for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or fibromyalgia, but there are various treatment options available to manage the symptoms. Treatment options may vary depending on the severity of the condition and the specific symptoms experienced by the patient.


Medications are often used to manage the symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and fibromyalgia. Pain relievers such as tramadol and opioids may be prescribed to manage chronic pain. Muscle relaxants may also be prescribed to ease muscle tension and spasms. Benzodiazepines may be used to manage anxiety and improve sleep quality.

Antidepressants may also be prescribed to manage pain and improve mood. These medications work by altering the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that are associated with pain and mood regulation.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and fibromyalgia. Physical therapists can develop customized exercise programs to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion. They can also teach patients how to manage their symptoms and prevent injury.


Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, may be used to help individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and fibromyalgia manage their symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be particularly effective in helping patients manage pain and improve their mood. CBT focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that may be contributing to pain and other symptoms.

Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies such as massage, acupuncture, and aromatherapy may also be used to manage the symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and fibromyalgia. Massage can help reduce muscle tension and improve circulation. Acupuncture may help reduce pain and improve mood. Aromatherapy may help reduce stress and improve sleep quality.

It is important to note that while these treatments may be effective for some individuals, they may not work for everyone. It is important to work with a healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan that is right for each individual patient.

Role of Rheumatology

Rheumatology plays a critical role in the diagnosis and management of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and Fibromyalgia. According to the American College of Rheumatology, rheumatic diseases are a group of conditions that cause chronic pain and inflammation in joints, muscles, and bones.

EDS and Fibromyalgia are both rheumatic diseases that share many symptoms, such as chronic pain, fatigue, and joint hypermobility. As a result, rheumatologists often play a key role in diagnosing and managing these conditions.

Rheumatologists use a variety of diagnostic tools, such as blood tests, imaging studies, and physical examinations, to identify EDS and Fibromyalgia. They also work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as geneticists, neurologists, and physical therapists, to develop comprehensive treatment plans that address the unique needs of each patient.

Treatment for EDS and Fibromyalgia typically involves a combination of medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Rheumatologists may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain medications to help manage symptoms. They may also recommend physical therapy to improve joint function and reduce pain.

In addition to treating symptoms, rheumatologists also play an important role in educating patients about their conditions. They can provide information on self-care strategies, such as exercise and stress management, that can help patients manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Overall, rheumatology is a critical specialty in the diagnosis and management of EDS and Fibromyalgia. By working closely with other healthcare professionals and using a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, rheumatologists can help patients achieve better outcomes and improve their overall quality of life.

Living with EDS and Fibromyalgia

Living with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and Fibromyalgia can be challenging and overwhelming. These conditions can cause chronic pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression, brain fog, and other symptoms that can affect a person’s quality of life.

To manage these symptoms, individuals with EDS and Fibromyalgia may need to develop strategies that work best for them. Medical advice from healthcare professionals can also be helpful in managing these conditions.

Physiotherapy and hydrotherapy can be useful in managing pain and increasing mobility. These therapies can also help individuals improve their muscle strength and flexibility, which can help reduce the risk of injury.

It is essential for individuals with EDS and Fibromyalgia to listen to their bodies and take breaks when necessary. Pushing through pain and fatigue can worsen symptoms and lead to further health complications.

In conclusion, living with EDS and Fibromyalgia can be challenging, but with the right strategies and medical advice, individuals can manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Literature Review

Several studies have explored the potential association between Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and Fibromyalgia (FM). A literature review was conducted to summarize the current knowledge on this topic.

One study published in the Journal of Rheumatology found that 43% of patients with EDS also had FM. This study also found that patients with both EDS and FM had more severe symptoms and lower quality of life compared to those with only one of these conditions.

Another study published in the Clinical Rheumatology journal investigated the prevalence of EDS in patients with FM. The study found that 21% of FM patients met the diagnostic criteria for EDS, which is significantly higher than the general population.

A review article published in the Journal of Pain Research discussed the potential mechanisms linking EDS and FM. The article suggested that the hypermobility and joint instability associated with EDS could lead to chronic pain and the development of FM. Additionally, the article proposed that the dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system in EDS could contribute to the development of FM.

Overall, the current literature suggests a potential association between EDS and FM. Further research is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms and potential treatment options for patients with both conditions.