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Joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS) | Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) hypermobility type (EDS-HT)


“Joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS), or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) hypermobility type (EDS-HT), is an underdiagnosed heritable connective tissue disorder characterized by generalized joint hypermobility and a wide range of visceral, pelvic, neurologic, and cognitive dysfunctions. Deterioration of quality of life is mainly associated with pain and fatigue. Except for the recognized effectiveness of physiotherapy for some musculoskeletal features, there are no standardized guidelines for the assessment and treatment of pain and fatigue.”1

In the above cited work, researchers in Italy sought to make a practical classification of pain presentations and factors contributing in generating painful sensations in JHS/EDS-HT. They identified pain that can be topographically classified in articular limb (acute/subacute and chronic), muscular limb (myofascial and fibromyalgia), neuropathic limb, back/neck, abdominal and pelvic pain, and headache. They also found fatigue to appear as the result of multiple factors including muscle weakness, respiratory insufficiency, poor sleep, dysautonomia, intestinal malabsorption, reactive depression/anxiety, and excessive use of analgesics.

Treatments including education and lifestyle advice, behavior modification, physiotherapy, taping and bracing, exercise prescription, functional rehabilitation and pain medications offer some symptomatic control, they do little in regard to curbing the progressive debilitating nature of the diseases. The excessive joint mobility with its subsequent joint degeneration and multiple joint dislocations, can then lead the individual to seek out surgical intervention, which has suboptimal results in the hypermobile patient population versus the normal population. As such, some patients with JHS and EHS are seeking alternative treatments for their pain, including Prolotherapy.

Prolotherapy for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome alone or  in conjunction with Platelet Rich Plasma therapy or when warranted, stem cell injection therapy, offers great hope for those with symptoms from generalized hypermobility because it is designed to successfully treat the ligament and tissue laxity that accompanies JHS and EDS.

These therapies work by initiating a brief inflammatory response, which causes a reparative cascade to generate new collagen and extra cellular matrix giving connective their strength and ability to handle strain and force. Some of the rationale for using Prolotherapy for patients with EDS and JHS include a high safety record, it is comprehensive in form (all or most joints can be treated at each visit), is an outpatient procedure, is cost effective (compared to surgery), pain relief is often quick, and it provides joint stabilization. Perhaps its greatest asset is the fact that this one treatment modality can handle most of the painful musculoskeletal conditions that occur in individuals with EDS and JHS.

Prolotherapy could contribute to the treatment of hypermobility disorders also by preventing the development of precocious osteoarthritis. It has long been known that individuals with JHS and EDS suffer with premature osteoarthritis in various joints and the amount of degeneration correlates with the extent of the individual’s hypermobility. The combination of extreme hypermobility and repeated injury is presumed to be what leads to the early osteoarthritis. This is most likely the reason that the hypermobility type of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is the most debilitating form with respect to musculoskeletal function. 2

1. Castori M, Morlino S, Celletti C, Celli M, Morrone A, Colombi M, et al. Management of pain and fatigue in the joint hypermobility syndrome (a.k.a. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, hypermobility type): Principles and proposal for a multidisciplinary approach. Am J Med Genet A. 2012 Aug;158A(8):2055-70. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.35483. Epub 2012 Jul 11.

2. Hauser RA, Phillips HJ. Treatment of joint hypermobility syndrome, including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, with Hackett-Hemwall Prolotherapy. Journal of Prolotherapy. 2011;3(2):612-629.

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