Cognitive, emotional, and behavioral considerations for chronic pain management in the Ehlers–Danlos syndrome hypermobility-type: a narrative review

Carolina Baeza-Velasco, Antonio Bulbena, Roberto Polanco-Carrasco, Roland Jaussaud

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Background: Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (EDS) hypermobility-type is the most common hereditary disorder of the connective tissue. The tissue fragility characteristic of this condition leads to multi-systemic symptoms in which pain, often severe, chronic, and disabling, is the most experienced. Clinical observations suggest that the complex patient with EDS hypermobility-type is refractory toward several biomedical and physical approaches. In this context and in accordance with the contemporary conceptualization of pain (biopsychosocial perspective), the identification of psychological aspects involved in the pain experience can be useful to improve interventions for this under-recognized pathology. Purpose: Review of the literature on joint hypermobility and EDS hypermobility-type concerning psychological factors linked to pain chronicity and disability. Methods: A comprehensive search was performed using scientific online databases and references lists, encompassing publications reporting quantitative and qualitative research as well as unpublished literature. Results: Despite scarce research, psychological factors associated with EDS hypermobility-type that potentially affect pain chronicity and disability were identified. These are cognitive problems and attention to body sensations, negative emotions, and unhealthy patterns of activity (hypo/hyperactivity). Conclusions: As in other chronic pain conditions, these aspects should be more explored in EDS hypermobility-type, and integrated into chronic pain prevention and management programs.Implications for Rehabilitation Clinicians should be aware that joint hypermobility may be associated with other health problems, and in its presence suspect a heritable disorder of connective tissue such as the Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (EDS) hypermobility-type, in which chronic pain is one of the most frequent and invalidating symptoms. It is necessary to explore the psychosocial functioning of patients as part of the overall chronic pain management in the EDS hypermobility-type, especially when they do not respond to biomedical approaches as psychological factors may be operating against rehabilitation. Further research on the psychological factors linked to pain chronicity and disability in the EDS hypermobility-type is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1110-1118
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2019


  • behavior
  • body awareness
  • chronic pain
  • cognition
  • Ehlers–Danlos syndrome
  • emotions
  • Joint hypermobility


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