Connective tissue is the tough, often fibrous tissue that binds the body's structures together and provides support and elasticity. Muscles Muscles There are three types of muscles: Skeletal Smooth Cardiac (heart) Two of these kinds—skeletal and smooth—are part of the musculoskeletal system. read more , bones Bones Bone, although strong, is a constantly changing tissue that has several functions. Bones serve as rigid structures to the body and as shields to protect delicate internal organs. They provide... read more , cartilage, ligaments Ligaments Ligaments are tough fibrous cords composed of connective tissue that contains both collagen and elastic fibers. The elastic fibers allow the ligaments to stretch to some extent. Ligaments surround... read more , and tendons Tendons and Bursae Tendons are tough bands of connective tissue made up mostly of a rigid protein called collagen. Tendons firmly attach each end of a muscle to a bone. They are often located within sheaths, which... read more are built mostly of connective tissue. Connective tissue is also present in other parts of the body, such as the skin and internal organs. The characteristics of connective tissue and the types of cells it contains vary, depending on where it is found in the body. Connective tissue is strong and thus able to support weight and tension.
There are over 200 disorders that involve connective tissue. Specific disorders discussed here include
Some of these disorders have no clear cause, and some are inherited. Certain hereditary disorders cause connective tissue throughout the body to form abnormally. In general, hereditary connective tissue disorders develop in childhood but last throughout life.
A doctor's evaluation
Analysis of genes
Most hereditary connective tissue disorders are diagnosed based on their symptoms and findings during a physical examination.
X-rays Plain X-Rays X-rays are high-energy radiation waves that can penetrate most substances (to varying degrees). In very low doses, x-rays are used to produce images that help doctors diagnose disease. In high... read more can reveal bone abnormalities that may be associated with a connective tissue disorder.
A biopsy (removal of a tissue sample for examination under a microscope) can also help. The tissue is usually removed using a local anesthetic, which numbs the area.
Analysis of genes, usually from a sample of blood, may help doctors diagnose some hereditary disorders.