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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Jul 2023 - 4 Aug 2023

2023 Jul 08

Brain Sci




The Language of Pain in the Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: Metaphors as a Key to Understanding the Experience of Pain and as a Rehabilitation Tool.


Camerota F, Mariani R, Cordiano G, Di Trani M, Lodato V, Ferraris A, Pasquini M, Celletti C


Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are a heterogeneous group of Heritable Connective Tissue Disorders characterized by joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility, and tissue fragility. Among the different types, the hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is the most frequent and includes generalized joint hypermobility as the major diagnostic criterion. Joint hypermobility in hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is often associated with pain that does not always allow the use of effective pain-reducing treatments. Patients with hEDS constantly describe their pain in detail. Eighty-nine patients with hEDS diagnoses were recruited and evaluated. They were asked to describe their pain in writing. The texts were examined through Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count. Correlational analyses were conducted between pain perception and language. A comparison of high/low pain perception and the quality of metaphors was carried out. The results showed that language quality varies depending on how much pain is perceived. The greater the pain is perceived, the lesser the positive effects and the greater the negative effects and dehumanizing metaphors are being used. Moreover, a greater pain seems to be related to a verbal experience of greater isolation and less self-care. In conclusion, the use of metaphors is a useful tool for examining illness experience and may help clinicians in the rehabilitation program.