Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome refers to a collection of genetic disorders impacting the body’s connective tissues. It causes hyperextensibility of the skin, elastic and velvet-like skin that bruises easily, delayed wound healing, and thin atrophic scars.
There are 13 types of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, but the most common is hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS). Other types include classic Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, and kyphoscoliotic Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Joint hypermobility is the most EDS common symptoms.People with loose, flexible joints often feel they can flex or move their bodies in ways others cannot. For example, they may wiggle their fingers through the palm of their hand or flex their jaw wider than usual. People with this symptom also experience joint pain, especially when they exercise or use their muscles. The joint discomfort is sometimes more intense and lasts longer than usual.
The symptoms of joint hypermobility are very similar to those of arthritis, so it is vital to see a doctor if you think you have this condition. A doctor will review your family history and medical records and do a physical exam of the muscles and bones in your body.
To alleviate your symptoms, your doctor may suggest lifestyle modifications. For instance, they may advise avoiding exercises that strain your joints. The doctor may also suggest splints or taping to protect your joints during activities. It is crucial to maintain muscle tone, so regular exercise is recommended.
To maintain a healthy and well-rounded diet, it is recommended to include a diverse selection of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while minimizing the intake of processed foods. Additionally, drinking sufficient water is crucial, and it’s best to avoid alcohol or caffeine. Over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be helpful in case of pain.
Skin that bruises easily
We all bruise occasionally, whether it’s from bumping into a door frame or getting hit by a car. But if your bruises happen quickly and you’re unsure why, it could indicate an underlying condition.
Bruises develop when blood vessels break and blood leaks into tissues under the skin. Depending on their skin tone, this gives a person’s skin a black or purple color. Eventually, the body absorbs the blood, and the bruise disappears. Bruises are more common as we age because the skin naturally thins, and blood vessels become less flexible. They may also be more common in people with diabetes since it interferes with normal blood clotting. Certain medicines also increase the risk of bruising. Anticoagulants like warfarin, heparin, and rivaroxaban interfere with proper blood clotting, while steroids such as prednisone cause the skin to thin. Other medications that make bruising more likely include methylprednisolone and hydrocortisone.
If you have the vascular form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS type IV), easy bruising is one of the first symptoms that may appear. It’s a genetic disorder that causes this form’s soft, stretchy skin to bruise and rupture more easily. The condition also affects the joints, muscles, and internal organs of those with it. Other signs of this disorder include progressive scoliosis and kyphoscoliosis, flat feet, and problems with the arteries and heart valves.
People with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome often report that their muscles feel weak. Sometimes, weakness happens suddenly but can also happen gradually over time. For example, it may be harder to open a jar or climb the stairs. If the weakness is sudden, it may be a sign of a stroke or another serious health problem like multiple sclerosis, characterized by muscle tingling and weakness.
The muscles in your body get their strength from signals sent by the brain through your spinal cord, nerves, and muscles. Weakness can occur if parts are damaged or diseased, including the brain and the connections between them.
In Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, your collagen isn’t strong enough to support your tissues the way it should. The condition causes your joints to bend farther than they should, making them more likely to dislocate or be sprained. It can also cause your skin to be thin and fragile, which makes you more likely to have bruises.
The symptoms of different subtypes of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome vary, but most involve muscle weakness. It’s important to distinguish true muscle weakness from fatigue or pain, which can also affect how much strength your muscles have. Your doctor can diagnose you by asking questions and doing a physical exam.
Fatigue is one of the most common complaints of people with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Fatigue is a very general symptom and can be due to many things. It can be a result of illness (such as chronic fatigue syndrome, flu, glandular fever, or thyroid problems), a side effect of medications (including those used for pain relief), lifestyle factors like sleeping habits, diet, and alcohol and drug use, or emotional well-being and stress. People experiencing fatigue should keep a diary of their symptoms, including how much they sleep and whether it is in regular cycles. They should also record any physical activity they engage in, and the times they experience fatigue. This information can help the doctor understand what is causing it and how to manage the symptoms best.
It is important to note that fatigue is very different from feeling sleepy. Everyone feels tired and sleepy occasionally, but these feelings generally pass reasonably quickly with a bit of rest or sleep. Fatigue is a constant feeling that makes it hard to do everyday activities and may reduce the quality of life. If this symptom affects your ability to function at home, work, or socially, it may be worth discussing with your health professional. It can be frustrating to explain your fatigue to those around you, but good communication and understanding can make a big difference.