The term connective tissue disorder refers to any condition in which the connective tissues of the body undergo any harm or damage. These connective tissues are found throughout the body and are what support, bind together and protect the vital organs. The tissues are made of two major structural protein molecules, namely collagen and elastin. A connective tissue disorder will cause an inflammation of the tissue that damages the elastin, which allows the ligaments that attach bones together to stretch and act as springs for easy bodily movement.
The most common forms of connective tissue disorder are divided into the groups heritable and autoimmune. Heritable disorders include Marfan syndrome, a genetic disease that causes abnormal growth of elastin, and Stickler syndrome, which affects collagen and often results in loss of vision and hearing. Another example is osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, which causes low production of collagen, which is necessary for producing healthy bones.
Autoimmune disorders are more common and are characterized by an overactive immune system that creates more antibodies than needed and puts them into circulation. This causes the body’s immune system to essentially attack itself. The usual forms of autoimmune connective tissue disorder are:
- Systemic lupus erythematosus, an inflammation of connective tissues that can cause damage to every organ system.
- Sjogren’s syndrome, a chronic and slowly progressive condition in which the body becomes unable to produce saliva and tears.
- Scleroderma, a hardening of the connective tissues.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, a systemic condition in which the immune system attacks the membranes surrounding joints.
- Mixed connective tissue disease, in which symptoms from several autoimmune connective tissue disorders overlap and cause increased damage.
People with a connective tissue disorder often suffer from symptoms such as chronic pain, fever, oral ulcers and rashes, amongst other signs depending on the type of disease contracted and its severity. If you are disabled because of one of these conditions, call Nick Ortiz at 850-308-7833 for information about how to file for Long Term Disability and/or Social Security disability benefits.