Rheumatological Aspects of Marfan Syndrome

  • Anne H. Child
  • Rodney Grahame


Locomotor syndromes are frequent and troublesome in the Marfan syndrome [1, 2]. Close involvement with rheumatologists and orthopaedic surgeons may be indicated to manage painful joint hypermobility and its complications in early to mid-life, and, with increased longevity, degenerative joint disease in later years. Seventy per cent of children experience symptoms of arthralgia, back pain and ligament laxity and injury [1]. The earliest complaints of the child are often knee pain or ankle pain necessitating rest and analgesia. These symptoms, if not appreciated by parents and teachers, may lead to the belief that the child is not trying to participate in family outings or school sporting activities. It is important to allow the child to participate to the extent of his or her ability, but to permit rest, or to terminate the family outing, if the child cannot keep up. Taking a pushchair on family outings makes it a more pleasant activity for all concerned. Allowing the child to act as a referee or a goal keeper or play the least demanding role on the team at school is helpful. Weak ankles and knees, combined with poor eyesight may make the children appear clumsy in sporting activities, and they soon lose interest. It is important to wear sports shoes with ankle support, and even arch supports and heel cups, to render the gait more controlled. Ankle and knee supports may be worn to stabilise these joints, which are prone to recurrent sprains, and in some cases patellar dislocation. In severe cases, surgical fusion of the ankle, or shortening of the patellar ligaments may be helpful. Patients should be taught to gently reduce recurrent dislocations of patellae, fingers and toes. These joints gain stability with passing years. Wrist or finger splints may help to stabilise the loose wrist, thumb or fingers, and render writing neater. If the hand tires, especially during examinations, extra time should be given. Using fat pens or pencils, which may be built up, makes the handwriting more legible. For older children, the use of a laptop computer, or even a tape recorder to record lessons, may avoid the need for handwritten notes.


Alexander method Ankle pain Ankle support Arch supports Arthralgia Back pain Clumsy Costochondritis Depression Endocarditis Fatigability Hammer toes Handwriting Heel cups High palate Knee pain NSAIDs Occupation Orthotics Osteoarthritis Patellar dislocation Retirement Splints Sporting activities Surgical fusion 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cardiovascular and Cell Sciences Research InstituteSt George’s, University of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Rheumatology UnitHospital of St John and St ElizabethLondonUK

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