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Oct 22, 2021

I’ve seen several requests for guidance about working with clients who have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) lately. This genetic connective tissue disease creates symptoms that look like ordinary musculoskeletal injuries, but they’re not—this is why some doctors call people with EDS their “zebra patients”—as in, these hoofbeats are zebras, not horses.


For this episode I didn’t have a single contributor with a specific client, so I created a fictional person with EDS who would like to receive massage for back and neck pain, and headaches. I present the most important variables, and then we go through a critical thinking process to help set up some clinical decisions.


Will massage therapy fix EDS? No. Can it help? Absolutely yes. Listen on for more.





Anatomy Trains:   


Books of Discovery:   


Host Bio:        


Ruth Werner is a former massage therapist, a writer, and an NCBTMB-approved continuing education provider. She wrote A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology, now in its seventh edition, which is used in massage schools worldwide. Werner is also a long-time Massage & Bodywork columnist, most notably of the Pathology Perspectives column. Werner is also ABMP’s partner on Pocket Pathology, a web-based app and quick reference program that puts key information for nearly 200 common pathologies at your fingertips. Werner’s books are available at And more information about her is available at                  


Recent Articles by Ruth:       


“Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy and Massage Therapy,” Massage & Bodywork magazine, September/October 2021, page 33,


“Pharmacology Basics for Massage Therapists,” Massage & Bodywork magazine, July/August 2021, page 32,    



“Critical Thinking,” Massage & Bodywork magazine, May/June 2021, page 54,      



Check out ABMP’s Pocket Pathology:         




Case Report: Cornelia de Lange and Ehlers-Danlos: comorbidity of two rare syndromes (no date). Available at:


Ehlers Danlos Syndromes - NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders) (no date). Available at:


Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: Background, Pathophysiology, Etiology (no date). Available at:


It’s Not About ‘Flexibility’ (no date) Murray Meetze. Available at:


June 25, rew D.U. and 2018 (2018) ‘So-called Cirque du Soleil disease afflicts the extremely flexible | Ottawa Citizen’, 25 June. Available at:


Kofton, S.L., Katryna (2019) What It’s Like to Have a Body That’s Literally Falling Apart, The Cut. Available at:


Massage & Bodywork - NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2019. Available at:


About our sponsors:


Anatomy Trains is a global leader in online anatomy education and also provides in-classroom certification programs for structural integration in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan, and China, as well as fresh-tissue cadaver dissection labs and weekend courses. The work of Anatomy Trains originated with founder Tom Myers, who mapped the human body into 13 myofascial meridians in his original book, currently in its fourth edition and translated into 12 languages. The principles of Anatomy Trains are used by osteopaths, physical therapists, bodyworkers, massage therapists, personal trainers, yoga, Pilates, Gyrotonics, and other body-minded manual therapists and movement professionals. Anatomy Trains inspires these practitioners to work with holistic anatomy in treating system-wide patterns to provide improved client outcomes in terms of structure and function.