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  • Writer's pictureDr. George Cheriyan, DO

What Is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?

Updated: Mar 14, 2023

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a group of rare disorders that weakens your body’s connective tissue. This condition is inherited and affects your skin, joints, blood vessels, bones, muscles, and other organs and tissues. The symptoms can begin at any age but typically develop in early childhood. This post will examine the cause and types of EDS, including the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome vascular, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and genetics, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome criteria, life expectancy, and treatment.

Patient Suffering Pain from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Causes of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

EDS is caused when a gene responsible for producing a protein that adds flexibility and strength to your body’s connective tissues is faulty. This protein is called collagen. Thanks to this Ehlers-Danlos syndrome gene, your body does not produce enough collagen or produces weak collagen.

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is genetic, which means if one of your parents has it, there’s a 50% chance you’ll have it too. In some types of EDS, you can only inherit it from both parents, and there’s a 25% chance of you having the condition.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Vascular and Other Types

There are 13 types of EDS, all classified according to their features and where the symptoms appear on the body. The most common type of EDS is Ehlers-Danlos hypermobility, with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome vascular, considered the most serious. Other types include classical EDS and the rare Kyphoscoliotic EDS, arthrochalasia EDS, and dermatosparaxis EDS.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Criteria

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome criteria are used in making a diagnosis of EDS. Each of the types of EDS has a set of criteria; the presence of major and minor criteria along with the symptoms you have will help confirm the presence and type of EDS you have. Molecular testing is required in some types such as vascular EDS to confirm a diagnosis.

Some hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) criteria include:

  • Generalized joint hypermobility

  • Positive family history

  • Musculoskeletal complications

In Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome vascular, the criteria for making a diagnosis include:

  • Family history

  • Arterial rupture or dissection at a young age

  • Perforation of the colon in the absence of some disease

  • Rupture of the uterine during pregnancy (third trimester)

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome patients depends on the specific type of EDS they have. Some individuals have severe symptoms restricting their everyday activities, while others have only minimal symptoms. The frequency of complications also differs.

While those with common EDS usually have a normal lifespan, others with severe EDS have severely diminished life expectancy. For example, people with vascular EDS have a life expectancy of around 48 years.

Treating Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Although EDS is a common and complex disorder, it currently has no cure. Treatment focuses on managing the symptoms and preventing complications. People living with EDS also benefit from receiving care and support from different healthcare professionals, such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, cognitive behavioral therapists, and others.

Can an Osteopathic Doctor Help Manage EDS Symptoms?

Yes, thankfully, Osteopathic doctors (DOs) are able to help treat EDS. DOs who are skilled in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine and are familiar with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome treatment methods can make a difference in helping with the pain that accompanies undiagnosed, untreated EDS. As an Osteopathic specialist, I've helped countless individuals achieve their pain management goals through proper diagnosis and treatments, and I can help you too.

Looking to function optimally and prevent EDS from standing in the way of a fulfilled and happy life? Schedule an appointment with Osteohealer™ George Cheriyan today to feel the healing.

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