What Is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?

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If you’ve never heard of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, you’re not alone. This extremely rare connective tissue disorder affects just one in 5,000 people around the world. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or EDS, is described as a series of 13 connective tissue disorders that fall under one umbrella. Because EDS affects the body’s collagen, people with EDS generally have what is known as joint hypermobility (joints that are more flexible than average), fragile tissue, and/or skin hyperextensibility, which means skin that stretches more than average. But another issue those with Ehlers-Danlos face is much more common: They are more susceptible to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.

So, what’s the connection between EDS and TMJ disorder? After all, if the joints are looser, shouldn’t that mean less risk of developing TMJ disorder? Unfortunately not. In fact, because the temporomandibular joints of patients with EDS are so flexible, that joint flexibility often works against them by knocking the temporomandibular joint out of alignment, causing TMJ disorder.

So, how do you know if your TMJ disorder is caused by Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and not by other causes? Chances are if you have EDS you would already know it based on the physical characteristics of the disease; however, if any of those symptoms (overly flexible joints and stretchy skin) ring true for you, speak to your physician about being evaluated for EDS.

If you already have been diagnosed with EDS and are experiencing TMJ disorder symptoms, such as frequent headaches or migraine headaches, bruxism (teeth grinding), tinnitus (ringing in the ears), locked or stiff jaw, difficulty opening and closing your mouth, clicking sounds when you open and close your mouth, and neck and shoulder pain, please call Dr. George today to schedule an evaluation for temporomandibular joint disorder.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on November 11th, 2019