Evidence-Based Reviews

Anxiety and joint hypermobility: An unexpected association

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Current nosology of anxiety disorders neglects the somatic aspects and physical manifestations of anxiety, and in general, therapeutic interventions focus only cognitive/psychological aspects of anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be effective in treating the cognitive distortions associated with the chronicity of the illness and negative emotions. Baeza-Velasco et al38 found that patients with JHS/hEDS have a tendency toward dysfunctional coping strategies, and CBT may be useful to address those symptoms. Moreover, these individuals often suffer from kinesiophobia and hyperalgesia. Some pilot CBT strategies have been developed, and research suggests that along with exercise, CBT can be a valuable pain management tool in patients with JHS/hEDS.39

Nonetheless, these patients often suffer from several somatic complaints and bodily manifestations (eg, somatosensory amplification, dysautonomia) that require treatment. Thus, interventions that address mind and body connections should be implemented. Some research found meditative therapies for anxiety disorders can be effective,40,41 although further randomized controlled trials are needed.

Based on our proposed “Neuroconnective phenotype,” we suggest a new therapeutic approach to address the 5 dimensions of this phenotype.

Somatic symptoms, such as blue sclera, dislocations, scars, easy bruising, and leptosomatic somatotype, do not require specific intervention, but they provide information about the physical phenotype of JHS/hEDS and can facilitate the diagnosis.

Elbow hyperextension image

Somatic illnesses. Treatment must address often-found comorbid medical conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, other gastrointestinal conditions, temporomandibular dysfunction, fatigue, fibromyalgia, and dysautonomia. Obviously specific attention must be paid to JHS/hEDS, which responds relatively well to physical treatments, including aerobic exercise, and particularly well to expert physiotherapy. Relaxation and meditation techniques also are effective.

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