What are the Symptoms of Ehlers Danlos?

Symptoms of Ehlers Danlos

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a group of disorders that affect the connective tissues in the body. Symptoms of EDS can vary widely depending on the specific type and severity of the condition.

It is named after two physicians, Edvard Ehlers and Henri-Alexandre Danlos, who first described the condition in the early 20th century.

The EDS condition is characterized by joint hypermobility, fragile skin, and tissue fragility. There are several subtypes of EDS, each with its specific symptoms and genetic mutations. EDS can range from mild to severe, and symptoms can vary widely among individuals. Treatment for EDS focuses on managing symptoms and preventing complications.

Joint Hypermobility from EDS

Joint hypermobility is a common symptom of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). Joint hypermobility refers to the ability of joints to move beyond their normal range of motion. This can result in joints that are more flexible and loose than usual. While joint hypermobility can be seen in individuals without EDS, it is a defining characteristic of the condition. It can lead to various symptoms such as joint pain, instability, and an increased risk of dislocations.

Joint hypermobility occurs because the condition affects the body’s ability to produce collagen, which provides strength and elasticity to the joints and other tissues. Ehler’s-Danlos patients experience excessive joint flexibility, leading to frequent dislocations, chronic pain, and joint instability. Individuals with EDS may also have other symptoms, such as skin hyperextensibility and bruising. Joint hypermobility from EDS can significantly impact a person’s daily life, requiring management strategies such as manual medicine and therapy, bracing, and pain management techniques.

Pain and Fatigue from EDS

Other symptoms of EDS can include chronic pain and fatigue. The pain experienced by individuals with EDS can be widespread and unpredictable, affecting different parts of the body, such as the joints, muscles, and even the organs. This pain can be debilitating and significantly impact daily activities and quality of life.

Fatigue is another common symptom of EDS. It is often described as a profound and overwhelming exhaustion not relieved by rest or sleep. This fatigue can be constant or fluctuating, significantly limiting a person’s ability to engage in physical and mental activities.

The exact mechanisms behind the pain and fatigue in EDS are not fully understood. However, it is believed that the abnormal collagen affects the function of the nervous system, leading to heightened pain sensitivity and disrupted energy production. Additionally, the instability of the joints in EDS can contribute to muscle imbalances and overuse, further exacerbating pain and fatigue

Gastrointestinal Issues from EDS

One of the lesser-known symptoms of EDS is its impact on the gastrointestinal (GI) system. The exact mechanisms behind how EDS causes GI issues are still being studied, but a few key factors are at play.

  1. The connective tissues in the GI tract of individuals with EDS are often weaker and more prone to stretching and tearing.
  2. This can lead to a variety of GI symptoms, such as chronic constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
  3. Also, the weakened connective tissues can affect the functioning of the esophagus, leading to conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  4. EDS can also affect the autonomic nervous system, which controls the body’s involuntary functions, including digestion. This can result in dysautonomia, which can further contribute to GI issues. Symptoms of dysautonomia can include delayed gastric emptying, difficulty swallowing, and bloating.
  5. Individuals with EDS are more likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These conditions can cause additional GI symptoms and complicate managing EDS-related GI issues.

Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Problems from EDS

Some people with EDS may also have problems with their heart and blood vessels, such as mitral valve prolapse or aortic aneurysms. It’s important to note that symptoms can range from mild to severe, and not all individuals with EDS will experience the same symptoms.

One way EDS can cause blood pressure problems is by weakening blood vessels. Collagen is essential for the strength and elasticity of blood vessel walls. In individuals with EDS, abnormal collagen production can make blood vessels more prone to dilation and rupture. This can lead to conditions such as aneurysms, in which the weakened blood vessel balloons out and can potentially burst, causing life-threatening bleeding.

Additionally, EDS can affect the functioning of the autonomic nervous system, which plays a role in regulating blood pressure. The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary bodily functions, including the constriction and dilation of blood vessels. In individuals with EDS, autonomic nervous system dysfunction can lead to abnormal blood pressure regulation, resulting in either high or low blood pressure.

In terms of cardiac problems, EDS can impact the structure and function of the heart. The connective tissues in the heart, including the valves and the walls of the chambers, rely on collagen for strength and flexibility. In EDS, abnormal collagen production can lead to structural abnormalities in the heart, such as valve prolapse or enlargement of the heart chambers. These abnormalities can disrupt the normal blood flow and impair the heart’s ability to pump effectively, leading to symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

Mast Cell Disorder and EDS

One type of EDS, known as the hypermobile type, has been found to have a link with mast cell disorders. Mast cells are a type of white blood cell that play a crucial role in the immune system. They release substances such as histamine and cytokines in response to triggers like allergens or infections. In individuals with EDS, the connective tissues that hold mast cells in place may be weakened or defective. This can lead to mast cells becoming more readily activated and releasing their contents inappropriately.

It is believed that the underlying genetic mutations in EDS may cause abnormalities in the signaling pathways that regulate mast cell activation. The chronic inflammation and tissue damage associated with EDS may further contribute to mast cell dysfunction.

People with EDS must receive appropriate medical care for their condition. Symptoms and causes vary significantly. Those with the disease should seek physicians who understand the complex relationship between EDS and other disorders and health conditions for diagnosis and comprehensive management.

If you live in Orange County or Los Angeles and are suffering from EDS or believe you have EDS, don’t hesitate to contact our clinic Restoration Healthcare. Our team of integrative physicians is ready to help you manage your condition with integrative medical methods. Please read more on how to become a new patient at Restoration Healthcare.