What Is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)?


Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a group of medical conditions that affect connective tissues in the body. Connective tissues consist of proteins that support the skin, cartilage, bones, joints, blood vessel walls and other organs. Healthy connective tissues provide strength and elasticity to underlying body structures; EDS weakens these tissues. EDS manifests as weak or insufficient collagen in the body’s tissues, which prevents connective tissues from adequately supporting body structures.

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is classified into 13 types based on the specific symptoms and the affected part(s) of the body. Ehlers-Danlos hypermobility (hypermobile EDS) is the most common type, affecting an estimated 1 in 5,000 to 20,000 people. A cure for EDS does not yet exist, but symptoms can usually be managed.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary depending on the type of EDS. Severity of symptoms also vary from person to person. The most common symptoms of EDS include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Loose or overly flexible joints
  • Unstable joints
  • Joint pain
  • Fragile blood vessels
  • Abnormal scar formation and wound healing
  • Soft, thin or stretchy skin
  • Excessive bruising

Other symptoms include fatigue and gastrointestinal or cardiovascular issues.

Who is at risk?

EDS has a genetic component, so individuals with a family history of EDS are most at risk for developing the condition. If a parent has one of the most common varieties of EDS, there is a 50% chance of passing the gene on to their children. EDS can affect both children and adults.

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