In Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), ligament weakness can lead to neck instability and nerve pressure. This can potentially contribute to headaches, including migraine episodes.

EDS is a group of genetic disorders affecting collagen, a key component of connective tissue. EDS affects the skin, joints, and blood vessel walls. This leads to joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility, and tissue fragility.

People with EDS often experience various types of headaches, including muscle tension headaches, migraine episodes, and headaches related to high blood pressure and other physical conditions.

Let’s delve into the reasons why migraine occurs with EDS and explore treatment options for both conditions.

Yes. Some research indicates that migraine episodes and headaches are more common in individuals with EDS than in people in the general population.

A study of 1,627,345 Israeli adolescents found that those with hypermobile EDS (hEDS) or hypermobility spectrum disorders had a significantly higher prevalence of active migraine than those without these conditions. This association remained significant even after adjusting for other factors.

A 2015 study compared migraine characteristics between individuals with joint hypermobility syndrome (JHS) or hEDS and a control group of people with migraine. The findings showed that migraine symptoms in JHS and hEDS participants tended to start earlier, be more frequent, and be associated with more severe symptoms compared with the control group.

Research indicates that EDS can weaken the ligaments in the neck and spine, potentially causing instability in the neck and pressure on the nervous system. In turn, this may contribute to headaches.

In addition, the strain on the nervous system in EDS may alter genetic activity and nerve function, further contributing to headaches.

One study found that people with hEDS and migraine episodes showed differences in how their brains responded to visual stimuli compared with those with migraine but without hEDS.

Specifically, it found that the hEDS group had a significant decrease in the brain’s ability to habituate or adapt to repeated visual stimuli, especially in the later stages of visual processing.

This suggests that there may be specific neurophysiological alterations in the brains of people with hEDS and migraine that could contribute to their increased susceptibility to headaches.

Can EDS medications cause migraine symptoms?

There isn’t a specific medication for EDS known to trigger migraine headaches.

However, overusing common EDS symptom medications, like ibuprofen or muscle relaxants, can potentially worsen migraine symptoms. This misuse can lead to a phenomenon called medication overuse headache, where stopping the medication can trigger a headache.

Treating EDS and migraine episodes might involve:

Some medications may have interactions or contraindications, so it’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before starting any new medication.

Natural remedies

Natural remedies to relieve migraine episodes include:

  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This can help with joint health and migraine prevention.
  • Dietary changes: Follow an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to reduce inflammation associated with EDS and migraine.
  • Supplements: Consider taking supplements like magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and CoQ10, which may have benefits in both migraine and EDS.
  • Exercise: Engage in low impact exercises like swimming or yoga to strengthen your muscles and improve joint stability. But avoid overexertion that could trigger migraine episodes.
  • Stress management: Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or mindfulness to help manage migraine triggers and EDS-related pain.
  • Sleep: Maintain a regular sleep schedule and ensure you get enough rest. Sleep disturbances can exacerbate both conditions.

Living with EDS and migraine episodes

Support groups and online communities can provide valuable support and resources for people living with EDS and migraine.

Here are some resources:

  • The Ehlers-Danlos Society: It offers information, support, and resources for individuals with EDS and their families.
  • EDS Awareness: It provides extensive information on EDS and a map of local support groups.
  • Migraine.com: It offers articles, forums, and tools to help individuals manage migraine and connect with others.
  • American Migraine Foundation: It provides education, support, and resources for people living with migraine.
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EDS is a group of genetic connective tissue disorders that affect the skin, joints, and blood vessel walls, leading to joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility, and tissue fragility. People with EDS have a higher prevalence of migraine than the general population.

If you have both conditions, it’s important to work closely with a healthcare professional to create a personalized treatment plan. This plan may include taking medication, trying physical therapy, and making lifestyle modifications.