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Dr. Cameron
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Can you please tell me the symptoms? I don't think that you have the correct spelling.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
symptons are tiredness,swelling of ankles and cysts under skinon arms and legs

Ah, you mean: Dercum disease.

Adiposis dolorosa (Dercum disease), is a rare condition involving multiple painful lipomas, swelling, and fatigue. It is generally seen in obese, post menopausal women.

Dercum's disease is an extremely rare disorder characterized by multiple, painful growths consisting of fatty tissue (lipomas). These growths mainly occur on the trunk, the upper arms and upper legs and are found just below the skin (subcutaneously). Pain associated with Dercum's disease can often be severe. Pain may be caused by these growths pressing on nearby nerves. Dercum's disease mainly occurs in adults and more women are affected than men. In some cases, affected individuals may also experience weight gain, depression, lethargy, and/or confusion. The exact cause of Dercum's disease is unknown.

Pain in the fatty tumors lasting for at least three months. Often obesity occurs in a short period of time. But there is also a type of Dercum's disease that can occur with normal weight. The pain in fat and skin can be very intense, and can be described as aching, stabbing, smarting or burning. Swellings consisting of irregularly shaped soft fatty tissue deposits may occur in many areas of the body. These deposits may spontaneously disappear, leaving hardened lumpy or rope-like tissue or pendulous folds of skin. The pain is chronic and increases with the years, but varies much in cycles. It can exist in practically the entire fatty tissue layer, but most commonly affected are the knees, trunk, forearms and thighs, sometimes sparing of the face and hands. Severe asthenia (weakness)has been emphasized as a feature by some. The pain is spontaneous and increases powerfully even at gentle touch, and massage can feel unpleasant. Some affected individuals may experience depression, lethargy, and/or confusion. Lipomas, "fatty tumors " can be felt in the fat, they are intensely painful, and usually harmless, unless a tumor moves to the lung or heart which can be fatal.

Other common symptoms are:

  • Various areas of the body may swell for no apparent reason. The fingers becomes clumsy, a person may drop things and sometimes the fingers go numb.
  • Disturbed sleep, many have difficulties going to sleep because of the pain, but other forms of sleeping disorders also occur.
  • General fatigue, worsening with even mild activity.
  • Tendency to become black and blue; this seems to arise spontaneously or after alleviated blow.
  • Stiffness after resting especially in the mornings.
  • Skeletal pain in wrist, elbows, hips, tail bone and the long bones of the arms and legs.
  • Headache, usually a combination between tension headache and classic migraine.
  • Memory lapses and concentration difficulties making it difficult to learn new things and to accomplish intellectually demanding jobs.
  • Feeling hot is often felt by the patients, some have 37.5 to 39 Celsius degree fever several weeks in a row, with increased pain and incapacity to work as a consequence.
  • Tenderness under the feet, akin to walking on glass.
  • Tenderness in the skin, difficulties in wearing tight fitting clothes or taking a shower.
  • Infection sensitivity. Frequently increased pain during infections or active allergy attacks.

The pain seems to depend on the temperature and the weather and decreases normally at dry heat. Warm baths have a positive but temporary impact, though some patients do not tolerate heat. Generally increases pain in conjunction with menstruation. Sexual relation problems can arise because of the pain. Dercum's pain always exists, regardless if a person is asleep or awake. The diagnosis of Dercum's disease implies a long, chronic pain syndrome of debilitating nature. The pain can make it difficult to: ***** ***** a car, open the water tap, lift items from shelves, carry bags, open heavy doors, vacuum, hang laundry, wash floors, wipe windows etc.

Treatment methods include:


  • Surgical excision of fatty tissue deposits around joints (liposuction) has been used in some casesIt may temporarily relieve symptoms although recurrences often develop


  • The use of infliximab and methotrexate has been proposed.
  • Intravenous infusions of the local anaesthetic drug lidocaine may give temporary relief from pain.Additional treatments of lidocaine may be necessary periodically to sustain the effect
  • Another analgesic drug, peroral mexiletine, may also be effective in eliminating pain for variable periods of time
  • Fentanyl
  • Cannabis
  • Lyrica

Hang in there.. it is NOT curable, but it is treatable. You need to work with a good dermatologist and pain specialist.

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