What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a group of conditions that affect the connective tissues in the body. These tissues include cartilage, bone, fat and blood. They support organs and other tissues throughout the body.

Doctors classify Ehlers-Danlos syndrome into 13 types based on their most notable features and the parts of the body where symptoms appear. People with the most common type have symptoms including very loose joints and fragile skin that tears easily.

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can be genetic, meaning it is passed down through family members. An estimated 1 in 5,000-20,000 people have the most common type of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

What are the symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?

Each type of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome has its own symptoms. The most common type of the condition is Ehlers-Danlos hypermobility, or hypermobile EDS. Its symptoms include:

  • Hypermobile (overly flexible) joints
  • Unstable joints
  • Soft skin that is thinner and stretches more than normal
  • Excessive bruising

What causes Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?

A defect in collagen (proteins that add flexibility and strength to connective tissue) causes Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. People with the disorder have a faulty gene that leads to weak collagen or not enough normal collagen in their tissues. These defects can harm the connective tissue’s ability to support muscles, organs, and other tissues.

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