To the Producers and especially the Doctors that host "The Doctors":
The Cirque du Soleil performers were very graceful and elegant and demonstrate how wonderful the human body can be. Like many performers, they began training at a young age and continue throughout their lives to achieve and maintain peak performance. Contortionists almost uniformly have generalized ligamentous laxity and their training not only keeps them "loose" but they learn to control their bodies in all of their movements. However, many with generalized ligamentous laxity have an underlying connective tissue disorder that is often fraught with joint subluxations/dislocations, injuries such as strains and tears, poor healing, and acute and chronic pain and these are just the musculoskeletal issues.
One of the more common conditions with generalized joint laxity is the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Many who present to their doctor with complaints of pain or that their joints move too much or a parent concerned about the clumsy/awkward child, may all be found to have joint hypermobility. Doctors don't often examine for this trait and when brought up by the patient, it is too often dismissed as "there is nothing wrong with you" or "you could be a circus performer".
The patients and their families that we represent as health professionals and as the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation are understandably upset and even betrayed that "The Doctors" would display such a characteristic as one-sided that being "you could be a contortionist too" without understanding that many live in pain from their joint hypermobility. You must also realize from the impact of your show, "The Doctors" is seen as a credible program about health and disease and this segment only reinforced the misconception that joint laxity is a benign or even desired talent by anyone.
We ask that you consider such things in the future and more importantly to our population, we ask that "our side of the story" be also told. We would be happy to recommend patients and professionals alike for your consideration in such a segment.
Brad T. Tinkle, MD, PhD
On behalf of the Board of Directors and the members of the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation as well as those affected with EDS everywhere