Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders

Am Fam Physician. 2021 Apr 15;103(8):481-492.


Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) and hypermobility spectrum disorders are the most common symptomatic joint hypermobility conditions seen in clinical practice. The 2017 International Classification of the Ehlers-Danlos syndromes replaced previous terms for symptomatic joint hypermobility with hypermobile EDS and introduced the term hypermobility spectrum disorders for patients not meeting diagnostic criteria for hypermobile EDS. Both are diagnosed by applying the 2017 diagnostic criteria, which also excludes other less common conditions presenting with joint hypermobility such as other forms of EDS and heritable connective tissue disorders. Hypermobile EDS is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, but it does not have a known genetic mutation to help with diagnosis. Clinical features of hypermobile EDS include joint hypermobility, skin findings, and joint pains or recurrent dislocations. Hypermobile EDS and, less commonly, hypermobility spectrum disorders may also be associated with several extra-articular symptoms, including anxiety disorders, chronic pain, fatigue, orthostatic intolerance, functional gastrointestinal disorders, and pelvic and bladder dysfunction. The central goals of therapy are managing symptoms, preventing joint injury, and educating patients about their condition. Based on limited evidence, patients with hypermobile EDS/hypermobility spectrum disorders may benefit from physical and occupational therapy, psychological support, and self-management. Primary care physicians play a key role not only in initial recognition, diagnosis, and patient education, but by virtue of their ongoing relationship they can also help oversee and coordinate the multidisciplinary team many of these patients require.

MeSH terms

  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome*
  • Family Practice
  • Humans