Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a collection of genetic disorders that affect connective tissue. People who have EDS have problems with their collagen, a protein that adds strength and elasticity to connective tissue. This faulty collagen affects many body parts, including skin, muscles and ligaments.
The different disorders that make up Ehlers-Danlos syndrome are associated with a number of different genetic causes, some of which are passed from parents to their children.
Because EDS is a collection of disorders, symptoms can vary by the specific disorder; however, joint hypermobility (the ability to extend beyond the normal range of motion) and excessively stretchy skin or easy bruising are among the more common symptoms shared among the disorders.
The diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is based initially the findings of a family and medical history and physical exam. A doctor who suspects a diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can confirm the diagnosis through genetic tests performed on a sample of blood.
The main goal of treatment for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is to prevent injury and complications. A well-balanced treatment plan may include over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers for joint or muscle pain; blood pressure-lowering medications to reduce stress on fragile blood vessels; exercises to strengthen muscles to support unstable joints; and, in rare cases, surgery to repair joints damaged by repeated dislocations.
For people who have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, it's important not only to follow the prescribed treatment plan, but also to practice good self care to protect the skin and joints by avoiding injuries and falls, cleansing the skin with mild soaps and using sunscreen when going outdoors.