Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Overview

One sign of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is having joints that can extend past the normal range of motion. See more pictures of skin problems.
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The human body is made up of many kinds of tissue that serve important daily functions. Tissues hold the body together, protect the body's insides, enable movement and carry electrical messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Everything the body does depends on its tissues. So what happens when connective tissues, including bones and inner layers of skin, don't work the way they should?

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or EDS, is an inherited genetic disorder that affects the body's connective tissues and prevents the body from functioning in the way that it should. Symptoms of EDS include:

  • Joints that move beyond the normal range of motion, which can lead to dislocations and chronic pain
  • Extremely delicate skin that is susceptible to injury
  • Overly stretchy skin, which makes the skin vulnerable to damage and exposes a person's internal organs to harm

EDS abnormalities such as these are caused by faulty collagen, which is the substance that gives strength and elasticity to connective tissues in the skin, joints and blood vessel walls [source: Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation].

The six main types of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome each have their own specific symptoms. The severity of these symptoms varies on a case-by-case basis, sometimes affecting the patient in such a minor way that EDS goes undiagnosed, and sometimes causing severe mobility issues. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is rare, and patients diagnosed with EDS should remain under a doctor's care in order to address their specific symptoms.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, you might be wondering what the symptoms of EDS are and how it is treated. You also might be worried about passing it on to your children. Keep reading to find out what you need to know.