Brianna Cardenas PA-C, PA Professor
I have been ten years since I was initially diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, And over the course of that decade I have spoken to and met many unique and charismatic individuals. Many have taken what could be considered by many as one of the worst things in their lives, and turned it into something positive. Brianna Cardenas is one such individual.
She was diagnosed with Hypermobility Type Ehlers Danlos Syndrome when she was 20 by her Physical Therapist after dislocation of her SI joint.
As it generally goes, EDS is not a singular condition, it is almost always accompanied by other conditions. Brianna has a few other conditions along with her EDS. Spinal CSF Leak, POTS, Dysautonomia, and Brain Stem Injury are a few of them. As I stated earlier, Brianna has taken her EDS and used it to drive her to turn it into something positive. She runs a website which we are partnered with called My Pain Iq. It is an excellent source of information for pain management, A button to go to the page is located at the bottom of the page.
She created My pain IQ due to her extensive professional and personal experience with pain management and biomechanics. And she felt that others should benefit from her knowledge.
Brianna is a big supporter of a healthy diet and exercise as a way to manage the symptoms of EDS. She is also an active advocate for the use of CBD (cannabidiol) products as a means to manage pain. These are the non-THC Hemp based products that have provided relief for many patients with many different conditions. These include topical and full spectrum CBD which means it can be taken orally, in food, beverage, or using a vaping device.. Please note that this is not a recommendation to start vaping. She has tried many different types of medications like many of us but found that some of the side effects were worse than the conditions they were treating.
Brianna is a Physicians Assistant and because she works within the medical community, she uses this to help raise awareness about EDS from within. She is Currently developing an online program to make an EDS specific pain specialty clinic that will be covered by health insurance. This is still in the works but this will offer more access to pain management to EDS patients and alleviate their pain in a more focused manner.
She has made great strides in helping the physician's assistant program. she works as an Adjunct professor at the University of La Verne At least 22 new PAs each year now are now able to recognize the signs and symptoms EDS. This is an impressive feat since I know from personal experience that PAs that I have been treated within the past had limited knowledge of the disease, as did the doctors they practiced under.
A Note From Brianna:
My top recommendations would be to get support, including a good therapist, not because it's "all in your head" but because this disease wreaks havoc on your mental health as much as your physical health. Get a support system in place, and think long term about training for a job or career that you can do with little damage to your body. Also, understand that you must educate yourself on EDS, be your own advocate, and you must be prepared with LOTS of written documentation when a new symptom or condition arises because chances are, your healthcare provider won't believe you or don't know what to do for you.
Lastly, don't let this disease change your identity forever. It is natural to go through a grieving period for your old body and former self. Feel those emotions and work through them with your therapist, but please don't stay in that mindset forever. I know from experience, that it will not serve you, and it will, in fact, worsen your pain (it's called pain centralization), alienate your support, and reduce the amount of effort your healthcare providers will spend to try to help you. A tall order, I know, but we're not called zebra "Warriors" for nothing!