May is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month.
If you weren’t aware that this even existed, you are not alone. After all, that’s what an awareness month is for, making us aware of a disease that doesn’t often get a lot of press.
In fact, Ehlers-Danlos is not just one syndrome; it’s a series of 13 connective-tissue disorders that result primarily in various joint and skin related issues, but sometimes manifest in dangerous ways. It all has to do with your genetics. In fact, it’s as common as 1 in 5,000 people. It affects any of 12 different genes, and which one determines how they appear in physical symptoms.
Many types have normal life expectancies, but some can result in shorter-than-expected lifespan or painful complications. The wide array of symptoms range from things you probably know like hyper-elastic skin or rheumatoid arthritis-like finger deformities and many obscure syndromes, such as levido reticularis or Arnold-Chiari malformation. Trust me, there’s too many to list here, so we’re just going to look at one type: hypermobility.
People with this type of EDS have very loose joints, which allows for excessive movement and flexibility. However, while it may look cool to bend your body in strange directions, this condition can have your joints dislocating frequently, causing painful and lasting damage. Physical evaluation and family history are the only tools for diagnosis, and there is no known cure for the disease, only treatment for its symptoms.
Don’t worry though. You should know by now if you have EDS. But it’s always worth a quick Google search to learn more about it, especially since you are now aware that it’s Ehlers-Danlos Awareness Month!