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Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Related conditions (aka Comorbidities)

Updated On:
April 2024
David Harris

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is one of the most complex conditions affecting the human condition because it has an impact on almost every system in the  body. These relationships are primarily by the system wide prevalence of  connective tissues, which provide structure and support to skin, blood vessels, organs, and joints, but there are also other factors that are not fully understood. Although it has one name, EDS is not a solitary condition. Instead, it serves as a central node in a vast network of comorbid conditions, painting a picture of intricate medical relationships that demand our attention.

Understanding Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

EDS encompasses a group of disorders affecting connective tissue, leading to symptoms such as weakened tissues, increased risk of injury, and mobility issues. This syndrome can manifest in various forms, each with its own set of characteristics but united by the underlying connective tissue involvement.

The Concept of Comorbidities

In the context of EDS, comorbidities refer to the simultaneous presence of two or more disorders in a patient. These comorbid conditions span a wide range, from neurological and spine issues to digestive and cardiovascular disorders. The presence of these comorbidities complicates the clinical picture of EDS, necessitating a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to management and treatment.

Common EDS Comorbidites:

Research and clinical observations have identified several conditions that frequently coexist with EDS, including but not limited to:

Neurological and Spine Problems

  • Migraines
  • Disc Degeneration
  • Scoliosis (Spine Curvature)
  • Craniocervical Instability (instability at the junction between the head and neck)
  • Cervico-cranial Instability
  • Chiari Malformation
  • Syringomyelia
  • Intracranial Hypertension
  • Tethered Cord Syndrome
  • Dystonia
  • Tarlov Cysts

Joint Issues

  • Chronic Joint Pain
  • Frequent Dislocations
  • Susceptibility to Osteoarthritis
  • Atlantoaxial Instability

Digestive Disorders

  • Acid Reflux
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Gut Dysmotility including Dysphagia and Gastroparesis

Cardiovascular Problems

  • Mild Dilation of the Aortic Root
  • Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS)
  • Mitral Valve Prolapse
  • Reynaud's Phenomenon

Skin Issues

  • Stretchiness
  • Abnormal Scarring
  • Easy Bruising
  • Stretch Marks at a Young Age
  • Slow Wound Healing

Bladder Disorders

  • Interstitial Cystitis

Dental Issues

  • Periodontis
  • Dental Crowding

Psychological Conditions

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression
  • PTSD

Immunological and Allergies

  • Mast Cell Activation Disorder
  • Primary Immunodeficiency (PI)

Eye Conditions

  • Detached Retina
  • Brittle Cornea Syndrome (BCS)
  • Blue Sclera

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • ME/CFS

Autonomic Dysregulation

Pain Disorders

  • Small Fiber Neuropathy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • CRPS

Sleep Disorders

  • Sleep Apnea

Bone Disorders

  • Osteoporosis
  • Kyphosis

Understanding EDS Comorbidities in More Depth:

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) is a multifaceted connective tissue disorder, inherently linked with a spectrum of comorbid conditions, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of its associated health implications. Below is a scientifically framed overview of these comorbid conditions:

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)

MCAS is characterized by an overactive mast cell response, leading to the excessive release of mast cell mediators. This condition often co-occurs with EDS, suggesting a possible immune system dysfunction in EDS patients that may precipitate mast cell activation. Symptoms include urticaria, flushing, and anaphylaxis, presenting a complex clinical picture when associated with EDS.

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)

POTS, a condition marked by an exaggerated increase in heart rate upon standing, is frequently observed alongside EDS. This autonomic dysfunction indicates a profound interconnection between EDS and dysautonomic states, affecting up to 90% of individuals diagnosed with POTS, according to research.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

CFS and EDS share overlapping symptoms such as pervasive fatigue, cognitive disturbances, and sleep abnormalities, suggesting a synergistic exacerbation of systemic exhaustion in affected individuals.

Lyme Disease

The intersection of Lyme disease and EDS is marked by mutual symptomatology, including joint pain and fatigue. This confluence underscores the importance of differential diagnosis in patients presenting with such symptoms.


EDS predisposes individuals to weakened connective tissues, thereby enhancing the risk for osteoarthritis. This relationship exemplifies a cascading effect where joint instability due to EDS contributes to the accelerated degeneration observed in osteoarthritis.

Joint Instability

Intrinsic to EDS, joint instability manifests through hypermobility, dislocations, and subluxations, substantially impacting daily functioning and quality of life.

Psychological Conditions

The chronicity and complexity of EDS often predispose individuals to psychological conditions, including anxiety and depression, highlighting the need for comprehensive mental health support.

Sleep Disorders

EDS-associated pain and discomfort often lead to sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea, further complicating the clinical management of EDS.


Fibromyalgia, characterized by widespread pain and hypersensitivity, frequently coexists with EDS, suggesting a common pathophysiological underpinning related to chronic pain and sensory processing.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

CRPS presents an intensified pain response, often following an injury or trauma, and its occurrence alongside EDS may amplify pain perception and management challenges.

Cardiovascular Complications

EDS can entail a variety of cardiovascular complications, from valvular heart diseases to aneurysms, as well as other conditions like Raynaud's phenomenon.

Gastrointestinal Issues

EDS patients often experience gastrointestinal complications such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and gastroparesis, reflecting the systemic impact of connective tissue disorders on digestive functions.

Long Covid

Emerging evidence suggests that individuals with EDS may be particularly susceptible to prolonged sequelae of Covid-19, known as Long Covid, further complicating the clinical landscape with persistent symptoms post-infection.

Management Strategies for EDS Comorbidities

Addressing the comorbidities associated with EDS requires an integrative treatment approach, encompassing pharmacological interventions, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications, guided by a multidisciplinary healthcare team.

Navigating the Complexities of EDS Comorbidities

Living with EDS and its associated comorbidities demands a nuanced approach to self-care and medical management, underscoring the importance of resilience, patient education, and supportive care networks.

Advances in EDS Research

Ongoing research continues to expand our understanding of EDS and its myriad comorbidities, promising advancements in diagnostics, treatment modalities, and patient outcomes.

In summary, EDS is a complex disorder with a wide array of associated comorbid conditions, each contributing to the multifaceted clinical presentation and management challenges. A holistic and informed approach is paramount for optimizing care and enhancing the quality of life for individuals with EDS.

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