Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a hereditary condition that affects the skin and the mobility of joints due to abnormal collagen synthesis, an important component of connective tissue; the latter is abundant in the skin, joints and vessels, to which it gives strength and elasticity. Although it develops in childhood, the diagnosis is only reached in later years. The condition takes many different forms that vary in severity, so the clinical manifestations vary widely. Ehlers- Danlos syndrome diagnosis is based on physical examination, through observation of how the patient moves, and the doctor's analysis of his/her medical history. Usually, a rheumatologist or a physiotherapist establishes the diagnosis rather than a general medical practitioner.
Joint hypermobility or laxity is one of the most characteristic signs of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Small joints are particularly more affected than large joints. An excessive degree of joint mobility is as bad in its own way as joint stiffness. To someone who enjoys gymnastics, it might sound as though it could be advantageous to have such flexible joints, but the joint flexibility gymnasts seek to achieve is something totally different. If joints move too freely, it causes lots of pain and easily leads to dislocations. Someone who suffers from EDS is much more likely to get sprains and dislocations than normal healthy individuals.
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