EDS and Hypermobility: How Compression Clothing Can Help

Have you met anyone with hypermobile joints? It may not always be just a cool quirk. According to the Hypermobile Syndromes Association, around 10% of hypermobile people suffer from syndromes that can range from mild to disabling. In fact, hypermobile EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) is a notable health condition which affects around one in every 10,000 people. It causes pain and other negative side effects, but some of its symptoms can be alleviated by compression clothing.

How does compression clothing help with joint hypermobility caused by the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome? Thanks to the added support and massage action from compression garments, people with hypermobile EDS can get some pain relief and benefit from more stability in everyday life.

Read on to understand more about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, the hypermobile variant and its symptoms, and how EDS compression clothing can help. 

What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)?

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome actually appears as a group of syndromes, conditions that affect connective tissue and are inherited and quite rare. EDS affects the skin, ligaments, blood vessels, internal organs, and bones.

Patients suffering from EDS could be affected by an extreme range of joint mobility - also known as the EDS hypermobility type. This means that their joints are very flexible, also causing chronic pain. 

girl with compression socks and feeding tube used to help her eds

Other types of Ehlers-Danlos syndromes include some which create stretchy skin, or fragile skin which can damage or bruise very easily. In total, there are 13 types of EDS and the hypermobile variant is the most common. 

The Symptoms of EDS and Hypermobility

So, how does hypermobile EDS manifest itself in real life? People suffering from this variant may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Joint hypermobility;
  • Pain in the joints;
  • Clicking joints;
  • Loose joints that feel unstable and can dislocate easily;
  • Easily bruised skin;
  • Extreme fatigue and generally low energy levels;
  • Problems with their internal organs that can include mitral valve problems or organ prolapse;
  • Getting dizzy and having an increase in heart rate after standing up;
  • Digestive issues, including suffering from heartburn or becoming constipated;
  • Bladder control problems.

You may be wondering how hypermobility looks. We often meet people with very flexible joints or double jointed. That’s not enough. For joint hypermobility syndrome, this flexibility is also accompanied by pain and some of the elements on the list above. They may include fatigue or dizziness only, but it will be more than a simple ability to overextend wrists or dislocate shoulders rapidly.

The Benefits of Compression Garments for Hypermobility and EDS

Compression clothing offers EDS hypermobility patients support, stability and relief from chronic pain. According to studies like this one, those suffering from hypermobility in their shoulders saw improved stability from wearing made-to-measure jackets for an extended period of time.

Compression clothing can help hypermobility and EDS in the following ways:

  • Gentle massage and pressure to the limbs, exerted by items like graduated compression socks, promote good blood flow and reduce the risk of swelling and pain from standing up or sitting still for long stretches;
  • The added support from compression, especially around joints like the ankles, wrists, shoulders etc., can be very beneficial in restricting hypermobility and movements that bring pain to those suffering from this condition;
  • Compression can prevent dislocations of joints;
  • Through massage and increased blood flow, compression garments can reduce some of the inflammation and pain experienced by those with EDS. 
stretching a medical grade compression sock

Types of EDS Compression Clothing

Depending on the area affected by EDS hypermobility, there is a wide range of compression garments that can provide benefits

For leg joint hypermobility, for example in the case of knees or hips, compression leggings feel great on most patients. They are even worn underneath regular garments to give that extra level of support and stability. Another great option that you can wear with pretty much any outfit are compression stockings.

women wearing compression tights and compression socks walking outside shopping

If you suffer from wrist or finger hypermobility, compression gloves can offer significant relief. They give the feeling of “holding the joints together” and allow patients to grab without dislocating their fingers.

Additionally, compression socks are ideal for those with hypermobile ankles. With a good pair of compression socks, however, you can hold your ankles and lower limbs tight, while also offering some relief from chronic pain. And it’s all done while being completely subtle. 

Aside from compression garments for hypermobility, you may also find the below items useful, depending on your doctor’s advice:

  • A sacroiliac belt for hip stability;
  • Crutches;
  • Neck support collars;
  • Kinesiology tape;
  • Gels and creams against bruising and swelling;
  • Braces;
  • Heating pads and hot water bottles;
  • Supportive shoes to increase stability.
  • Wheel Chair

Tips for Choosing and Wearing EDS Compression Clothing

Your EDS compression garments need to be well fitted and of good quality to ensure you make the most of their potential benefits. Starting with compression socks and including more medically prescribed garments, here are a few tips for getting it right:

  • Ensure you have the right size. Sizing is everything when it comes to compression. An item that doesn’t fit tight enough doesn’t provide support or stability, while wearing socks or leggings that are too tight will have negative effects on your blood circulation. It can also be quite painful. To ensure you buy clothing in the right sizes, always check sizing charts and take your measurements carefully.
  • Get appropriate fabrics. When you’re walking around in the heat of summer, you’ll want your skin to breathe and your clothing to wick away sweat. However, cold weather will have you reaching for thicker, softer fabrics and for garments that are guaranteed to help your body retain heat. Knowing how the fabric you wear affects how you’ll feel is extremely important.
  • Check reviews and testimonials. If you suffer from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, you can’t afford to leave your clothing to chance. Ideally, you will discuss EDS compression clothing with your doctor to see if it suits your condition and to get some recommendations. Additionally, doing some research on forums and even reading product reviews online will help you understand which items are best suited for your EDS hypermobility.
  • Don’t go bland. Just because a piece of EDS compression clothing is functional, it doesn’t mean it needs to be boring! Compression leggings come in lots of fun patterns and colors, while compression socks can literally brighten up your outfit and tone it up or down. 
  • Follow instructions to put on EDS compression clothing. Sometimes, tight items of clothing can be tricky to put on and remove, especially in the case of compression stockings and tights. Follow the manufacturers’ guides and tips on how to put them on correctly to make sure they fit right and that you don’t damage them in the process.
  • The Best Compression Socks for EDS

    For patients suffering from EDS affecting their ankle and toe joints, compression socks are a great way to add support and stability. They will feel reassuring throughout the day and can prevent or reduce chronic pain. Moreover, compression socks, tights and stockings better support your muscles and your blood flow, reducing swelling and discomfort.

    Pick your compression socks depending on the pressure level you’re after (for advanced EDS hypermobility, you may want the highest level at 30-40 mmHg) and the activity you’re planning on (choose Merino wool for hiking and walking, thin Nylon stockings for a lightweight feel, or cotton for everyday wear). 

    Regardless of the EDS compression socks you choose, always ensure that they fit you well and that you care for them as advised. This will give you the best possible compression benefits, all while increasing the life of your favorite pairs of socks to keep fighting the symptoms of hypermobile EDS.

    man flexing wearing compression socks

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