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Understanding Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS): A Comprehensive Overview by Dr. Kylie Reardon

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is an inheritable condition that affects your connective tissues. Connective tissue is a group of tissue that works to maintain the form of the body and its organs to provide cohesion and internal support. Examples of connective tissue include skin, joints, and blood vessel walls. With EDS the connective tissue may lack the integrity of strength and elasticity that properly supports the body and its functions. No two individuals with Ehlers Danlos are the same! Ehlers Danlos Syndromes are not just one, but a group of 13 heritable connective tissue disorders. These conditions differ due to genetic changes that affect the connective tissue. Each type of EDS may present with unique features depending on the body system and its effects, these can be identified using distinct diagnostic criteria. 

Body systems that EDS may effect include:

– Musculoskeletal system
– Cardiovascular system
– Nervous system
– Digestive system
– Periodontal/TMJ
– Sensory systems such as vision or hearing

Most often, joint hypermobility, skin elasticity, and tissue fragility can be seen
across all types of EDS.


Symptoms of EDS include:
Joint hypermobility (increased range of motion)
– Easy bruising
– Skin hyperextensibility/ soft fragile skin
– Chronic joint and musculoskeletal pain
– Fatigue
– Gastrointestinal issues
– Autonomic dysfunction
– Frequent sprains and strains
– Anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges and increased risk for hernias and pelvic organ prolapse


How is EDS diagnosed?
Diagnostic criteria for EDS can be reviewed by your Primary Care Physician. Included in this post are Clinical diagnostic criteria are a set of symptoms and characteristics observed in each condition. If a person meets the diagnostic criteria for a type of EDS, a genetic test should be done to confirm the diagnosis. Included in this post is the PDF for Diagnostic Criteria for Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS) that you can bring with you to your physician. Currently, there are no genetic markers for hypermobile EDS but your doctor may order sets of tests to confirm or deny the presence of EDS. If a person has symptomatic joint hypermobility but does not meet the diagnostic criteria of EDS or other conditions, then hypermobility spectrum disorders may be considered. You can read more about this on our What is Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (HSD) Blog. Management of EDS is often multifactorial requiring multiple health professionals to assist in the management of patients symptoms. Physical therapy is recommended for those with EDS.

At Inspira we can help manage symptoms utilizing the following:

– Strengthening exercises
– Joint stabilization
– Manual Therapy
– Muldowney Method
– Pilates Equipment Integration
– Kinesiotaping
– Lifestyle Modifications
– Identification of Pain Triggers and safe movements
– Sleep Hygiene

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