Lena Dunham attended an awards show with a cane to help with her chronic illness
The Girls star decided to "rock the cane" and show "there's room for all kinds of bodies in filmmaking"
Dunham has a type of Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS), a group of rare inherited conditions that affect the body's connective tissue
Read the full article to find out more about EDS and the impact it can have on people's lives
Lena Dunham attended an independent film awards show with a cane she uses related to her chronic illness.
The all-star writer, director, actor and producer, 36, best known for her hit show Girls, confidently walked the red carpet of the 2022 Gotham Awards in New York on Monday 28 November.
"I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is something I've talked about publicly," she told Entertainment Tonight at the event.
"So my knee is currently injured, and so I decided not to have shame about it and just to rock the cane cos there's room for all kinds of bodies in filmmaking.
"Curvy girls, disabled girls, all kinds of people."
Dunham first shared a paparazzi photo of herself using her cane in public to Instagram in 2019 to show she was "not embarrassed".
Injecting her humour into the post, she wrote in part, "I could lie and say it was an early Halloween look (Don’t you get it? I’m going as a con woman leaving a Florida Keys jail after being acquitted of murdering her husband, and now she’s trying to get disability license plates.)"
However, she added, "But the truth is just: This is what life is like when I’m struggling most with chronic illness.
"An Ehler-Danlos syndrome flare means that I need support from more than just my friends... so thank you, sweet cane! For years, I resisted doing anything that would make my physical situation easier, insisting that a cane would “make things weird.” But it’s so much less weird to actually be able to participate than to stay in bed all day."
So, what exactly is the syndrome that Jameela Jamil, Sia and Halsey also have, and what is it like to live with?
What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?
Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) are actually a group of rare inherited conditions that affect connective tissue, according to the NHS. These tissues provide support in skin, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, internal organs and bones.
The different types of EDS are caused by 'faults' in particular genes that make the connective tissue weaker, which may have been inherited from one or both parents, or sometimes occurs for the first time.
General EDS symptoms
Some types of EDS may share symptoms, which can include:
an increased range of joint movement
fragile skin that breaks or bruises easily
EDS can affect people differently, with it being relatively mild for some, and more debilitating for others. Meanwhile, some of the rare, severe types can be life-threatening.
Watch: Halsey has been newly diagnosed with multiple health conditions including EDS
Main types of EDS
There are as many as 13 types of EDS, with hypermobile EDS (hEDS) the most common.
Those with hEDS may experience:
loose, unstable joints that dislocate easily
joint pain and clicking joints
skin that bruises easily
dizziness and an increased heart rate after standing up
problems with internal organs
problems with bladder control
Other types include classical EDS (cEDS), which is less common than hEDS and tends to affect the skin more, vascular EDS (vEDS), which affects the blood vessels and internal organs and is considered to be most serious, and kyphoscoliotic EDS (kEDS).
Some people may have symptoms of hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD), but don't have any of the specific EDS conditions. However, it is treated in the same way as hEDS.
While there's no single treatment for EDS, it can be managed with help from professionals including a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, counsellor (generally, as well as genetic counselling to learn more about the cause), and regular scans.
For more information visit the NHS website on EDS, which advises you to see a GP if you have several troublesome symptoms of EDS.