Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Massage

The image depicts a massage therapist performing a treatment on a client who is lying face down on a massage table. The therapist, wearing professional attire with a Physio Connex logo, is focused on the task at hand, displaying a technique on the client's back.

What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a group of connective tissue diseases that affect the body in many ways. It is often associated with joints that move beyond normal range of motion to the point of potential subluxation or dislocation. EDS has a genetic component that changes the structure and function of collagen and some connective tissue proteins. Chronic pain, inflammation and fatigue are 3 major symptoms of EDS that massage can help manage.

When first meeting someone with EDS it is important to discuss their pain management strategy, they usually know what works best for them, and we do our best to accommodate. Remedial massage often starts utilising soft tissue and myofascial techniques to help assess the body. Soft tissue techniques are best used alongside heat for maximum results.


Soft tissue, Myofascial and Heat techniques

Effleurage is a massage therapist’s bread and butter and is a good technique to start with.

It can be done very lightly, with the skin not moving or “buckling” as you glide over it. This is helpful for assessment as it allows for the evaluation of superficial tissue regarding temperature, muscle tone and oedema. It can also induce a relaxation response via the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system.

The mechanical effects of effleurage, whether done lightly or deeply, include helping to move blood and lymph more efficiently. The general rule with effleurage is to perform the strokes centripetally, or toward the heart (along venous return). This helps to bring nutrients to, and remove toxins from, various organs and muscles.

Effleurage can be very effective in reducing pain.

Myofascial release is a type of physical therapy often used to treat myofascial pain which can be associated with EDS. These tissues surround and support the muscles throughout your body. Myofascial pain can be chronic where the myofascia has increased sensitivity and tightness. Normal myofascia should feel pliable and elastic. Through myofascial release techniques and tools, pliability of the myofascia can improve.

When speaking to clients with EDS, having a hot shower or using a hot pack before they arrive for their massage helps their body prepare and accept the changes massage can bring. In conjunction with massage, the use of Hot Stone massage would also offer some pain relief, especially in those areas that we use frequently like wrists, hands, feet and shoulders.

In conclusion, the results of massage with EDS can be variable, everyone reacts differently and it is important to always have open communication between client and massage therapist for the best results. To commence massage therapy, please click here to book online.