Connective tissue deficiency syndrome
Connective tissue deficiency syndrome (CTDS), also called Hauser’s syndrome, is a disorder characterized by a deficiency in the amount, function or strength of the connective tissue, including ligaments or tendons. There are two types of CTDS – systemic and localized. While systemic CTDS involves the entire body, localized CTDS is located in one spot, such as the shoulder. This condition plays a key role in many other conditions such as overuse injury, with which it is often confused, fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome.
How does connective tissue deficiency syndrome develop?
Connective tissue deficiency syndrome occurs when the body breaks down the connective tissues faster than it can rebuild them. This may be due to a number of different factors, including nutritional, metabolic, (see our article metabolic syndrome and osteoarthritis) and endocrine. Nutrients and hormones are necessary to repair and regenerate the tissue that is breaking down each day. If they are lacking, there’s no repair. It has also been found that one of the primary reasons an individual maintains a state of catabolism, the metabolic state of breaking down substances, is because of medications such as NSAIDs and narcotics that inhibit the normal inflammatory healing cascade. NSAIDs are, in fact, commonly prescribed for patients of fibromyalgia and many other forms of unresolved chronic pain, as well as after sports injuries.
Many different conditions have an association with a connective tissue deficiency, including:
- leaky gut syndrome
- premature graying
- periodontal disease
- premature aging
What are the symptoms of connective tissue deficiency syndrome?
In addition to pain, those afflicted with connective tissue deficiency syndrome may also experience tingling, weakness, numbness, swelling and/or stiffness. In addition, excessive loose skin and frail, dull hair may be observed, as well as the inability to repair or regenerate connective tissue, which can lead to fatigue and may affect sleep.
The Response of Traditional Medicine
Since connective tissue deficiency syndrome involves chronic pain and stiffness, a standard practice of traditional medicine includes steroids and other anti-inflammatory medications. However, in the long run, these treatments do more damage than good. In fact, they contribute to the condition! And although cortisone shots and anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown to produce short-term pain benefit, both result in long-term loss of function and even more chronic pain by actually inhibiting the healing process of soft tissues and accelerating cartilage degeneration. Plus, long-term use of these drugs can lead to other sources of chronic pain, allergies and leaky gut syndrome. Furthermore, this approach does nothing to heal the connective tissue and reverse the destructive catabolic process of this syndrome.
Many other treatment approaches, including electrical stimulation, massage and physiotherapy, may also be tried by modern medical practitioners. And if the chronic pain interferes with sleep, anti-depressants may be prescribed. And when all else fails, and especially in the case of localized connective tissue deficiency syndrome, patients may be referred to a surgeon. Unfortunately, surgery often makes the problem worse. Surgeons will use x-ray technology as a diagnostic tool, which does not always properly diagnose the pain source. And decisions to remove cartilage tissue will most commonly result in arthritis.
Caring Medical’s Approach to Connective Tissue Deficiency Syndrome
A better approach, in our opinion, is to stop using anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone shots, as well as to determine the root cause of the connective tissue deficiency. Since individuals with CTDS are in a catabolic metabolic state, that is, one of destruction or breaking down of materials, we often recommend patients have anabolic hormone levels checked. Anabolic refers to the constructive part of metabolism that involves building up, regenerating and repairing. Anabolic hormones, which include growth hormone, DHEA, testosterone, and progesterone, help stimulate connective tissue growth. Interestingly enough, the hormone estradiol, an excess of which is involved in a number of female reproductive disorders such as PMS, also has catabolic or destructive effects on connective tissue. This could, in fact, be one of the reasons why women are much more likely to suffer from connective tissue deficiency syndrome than men. If an individual’s anabolic hormone levels are low, natural hormone supplements are frequently recommended and we can work with a patient’s natural medicine provider to ensure that everything is being done from a diet, nutritional, and hormonal aspect to promote an anabolic state. In addition, it would be strongly recommended that neither oral contraceptives nor other synthetic forms of estrogen be taken.
Other recommended tests could include vitamin and amino acid levels, glucose tolerance, food sensitivity/allergy testing, fatty acid analysis and malabsorption studies. Results would determine what dietary changes, if any, would need to be made and what natural supplements would be appropriate.
What about Prolotherapy for Connective Tissue Deficiency Syndrome?
Connective tissue such as ligaments and tendons are made out of collagen, which is responsible for their strength, and which is weak in connective tissue deficiency syndrome. Because Prolotherapy initiates the healing cascade of collagen, repairing the damage of the catabolic processes, it is an excellent complement to the other natural treatments mentioned above. Prolotherapy is the ultimate connective tissue proliferant, and the more anabolic the patient’s hormonal milieu, the more response he or she will be to treatments and the more likely the chronic pain will be alleviated for good.