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Arthritis Rheum. 2011 Jul;63(7):1979-87. doi: 10.1002/art.30337.

Impairment and impact of pain in female patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: a comparative study with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.

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Ghent University and Artevelde University College, Ghent, Belgium.



The purpose of this study was to investigate functional impairment and the impact of pain in patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, hypermobility type (EDS-HT), and to compare the burden of disease with that in women with fibromyalgia (FM) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


A total of 206 female patients were compared (72 with EDS-HT, 69 with FM, and 65 with RA). Functional impairment was assessed with the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP), and the psychosocial impact of chronic pain was quantified with the Multidimensional Pain Inventory (MPI). Data on symptoms were collected.


SIP results showed clinically relevant health-related dysfunction in all groups. Significantly poorer physical, psychosocial, and overall function was found in the EDS-HT group compared with the RA group. In comparison with the FM group, the EDS-HT group reported similar physical and overall function, but better psychosocial function. T scores from the MPI revealed significantly higher levels of pain severity and life interference due to pain, and a lower level of perceived life control, in the EDS-HT group compared to the RA group. In contrast, the EDS-HT group showed significantly lower levels of pain severity, life interference, and affective distress in comparison with the FM group. Social support for help in coping with pain was similar between the 3 groups.


EDS-HT is associated with a consistent burden of disease, similar to that of FM and worse than that of RA, as well as a broad impact of chronic pain on daily life, which needs to be addressed in the health care system.

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