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Marfan Syndrome and the Skeletal System

Because Marfan syndrome and the skeletal system are related, people with Marfan syndrome are typically very tall, slender, and loose jointed. Arms, legs, fingers, and toes may be disproportionately long in relation to the rest of the body because Marfan syndrome affects the long bones of the skeletal system.

An Overview of Marfan Syndrome and the Skeletal System

Marfan syndrome is a condition that affects the connective tissue. The primary purpose of connective tissue is to hold the body together and to provide a framework for growth and development. In Marfan syndrome, the connective tissue is defective.
 
Connective tissue is found throughout the body. Therefore, Marfan syndrome can affect many body systems, which include the:
 
  • Skeleton
  • Eyes
  • Heart and blood vessels
  • Nervous system
  • Skin
  • Lungs.
 
In the United States, Marfan syndrome affects 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 10,000 people. Marfan syndrome affects both males and females and occurs in all ethnic groups.
 

Marfan Syndrome and the Skeletal System: Symptoms

People with Marfan syndrome are typically very tall, slender, and loose jointed. Arms, legs, fingers, and toes may be disproportionately long in relation to the rest of the body because Marfan syndrome affects the long bones of the skeletal system.
 
A person with Marfan syndrome usually has a long, narrow face, and the roof of the mouth may be arched, causing the teeth to be crowded. Other skeletal abnormalities include a sternum (breastbone) that is either protruding or indented, curvature of the spine (scoliosis), and flat feet.
 

Marfan Syndrome and the Skeletal System: Treatment

People with Marfan syndrome should have annual evaluations to detect changes in the spine or sternum. This is particularly important in times of rapid growth, such as adolescence. A serious deformity can be disfiguring, and it can prevent the heart and lungs from functioning properly. In some cases, an orthopedic brace or surgery may be recommended to limit damage and disfigurement.

(Click Marfan Syndrome for more information about the cause, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Marfan syndrome.)
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