Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or EDS refers to a group of health conditions affecting the human body’s connective tissues, including blood, fat, bone, and cartilage. The connective tissues are in charge of supporting other tissues and organs throughout the body.
EDS is classified into 13 types of health and medical conditions based on the parts of the body where the symptoms are most present and their most distinguished features. One of the most common types of EDS includes symptoms like fragile skin, skin tears, and loose joints.
Since EDS is mostly genetic, let’s discuss causes and symptoms, diagnosis, and common treatment options to help you to better understand EDS.
Symptoms and Causes
Each type of EDS is different, with its own symptoms. The most common EDS type is hypermobility or hypermobile EDS. It includes the following symptoms:
- Overly loose joints
- Hypermobile and unstable joints
- Thin and soft skin that is prone to tearing
- Excessive bruising
The leading cause of EDS is a defect in collagen – the protein in charge of the strength, health, and flexibility of connective tissue. People with EDS experience health issues with other tissues, internal organs, and muscles due to the lack of proper collagen support. The weaker the collagen, the more health issues a person experiences.
Diagnosis and management
Modern doctors have all sorts of technologies and MedTech tools they can rely on to diagnose various health and medical conditions, EDS included. When it comes to diagnosing EDS, doctors have an array of tests that involve:
- Imaging – special tests that include CT scans and X-rays provide images of internal organs and the inside of the body for doctors to gather insights on any abnormalities, including curved bones, disconnected tissues, and heart function problems.
- Physical exam – involves special movement and exercises conducted by doctors to determine how far the joints can move and how much the skin stretches to identify any perplexities, peculiarities, and things that are out of order.
- Biopsy – a biopsy is a special form of test where a skin sample is taken for examination under a microscope. This test is a very precise way to identify any signs of the EDS, such as gene mutations and specific gene abnormalities.
- Genetic testing – one of the most accurate and common ways to identify a faulty gene that might cause EDS.
Common EDS treatments
When it comes to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome treatment, there are many ways to go about it, such as:
- Neurologic rehabilitation
- Controlling inflammation
- Skilled Vagus nerve stimulation
- Identifying and treating underlying bacterial and viral infections
- Treating neurologic dysfunction
However, we have to emphasize that these are treatments for people already diagnosed with EDS. Since it’s always better to prevent dangerous health complications, you can also take some prevention measures to help protect your tissues, skin, and joints from injuries.
Many factors can determine the best treatment for every individual, including their symptoms and the type of disorder. The best way to protect your skin is to use mild soaps and protective sunscreen.
You can prevent bruising by taking extra Vitamin C daily. Aside from making your skin healthier, Vitamin C is also necessary for the proper function of your immune system. Doing exercises to strengthen your joints and muscles is also an excellent way to prevent EDS and take physical therapy to prevent further muscle, bone, and joint injuries.
Such therapy can also stabilize your bones and joints, including the surrounding cartilage. Since EDS makes your blood vessels more fragile, you can also turn to doctors to prescribe the proper medication to keep your blood pressure stable and low. Unfortunately, EDS cannot be prevented as it is a genetic condition.
If you are diagnosed with EDS, you should avoid:
- Contact sports
- Contact exercises that involve pounding your body against the ground
- High-impact training
- Strenuous and heavy lifting
The severity of your EDS condition depends on the type of EDS and symptoms. Most EDS types do not affect life expectancy. Doctors can help you deal with your condition with pain management and proper physical therapy.
The best way to avoid any complications is to constantly monitor EDS through regular visits to your doctor to ensure there are no additional problems that might reduce the quality of life and your wellbeing. It takes a bit of self-care and awareness to deal with this health condition, but it is possible to stay on top of it with the right mindset.