Dercum Skin Disease

Written by meagan kowalski
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  • Introduction

    Dercum Skin Disease

    Severe and sometimes debilitating pain can affect your quality of life. Learning more about Dercum's Disease, which causes growths underneath the skin that can press on nerves, will help you understand what you can do to treat your symptoms and lessen pain felt through your daily routine.

    Dercum's Disease can diminish your quality of life. (sad image by Alexandra Gnatush-Kostenko from

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    Dercum's Disease is a rare skin disorder. Multiple, painful fatty tissue growths found below the skin occur primarily on the torso, upper arms and upper legs. A chronic and progressive condition, Dercum's Disease is also known as Adiposis Dolorosa, Juxta-Articular Adiposis Dolorosa, Fatty Tissue Rheumatism and Lipomatosis Dolorosa Morbus Dercum's. It is also sometimes called Anders' Syndrome or Dercum-Vitaut Syndrome.

    Fatty tissue growths are commonly found on the torso. (jumping torso image by jimcox40 from

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    Risk groups

    Adults---especially adult women---are more prone to develop Dercum's Disease. Women who are post-menopausal or who are middle-aged and obese are also more likely to have the disease. Though less common, males and individuals who are not obese can also develop Dercum's Disease. Children can also develop the disease, but it less common. It is unknown if Dercum's Disease is hereditary. Cases have been reported to occur within families, but most cases are sporadic and show no clear link between parents and children.

    Women are at a much higher risk for having Dercum's than men. (women image by DOLPHIN from

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    The National Human Genome Research Institute reports that a combination of four symptoms may lead to a diagnosis of Dercum's Disease. Those symptoms include multiple, painful fatty masses; mental disturbances, including emotional instability; weakness and fatigue; and generalised obesity. Other symptoms include inexplicable and disproportionate weight gain that is tender to the touch and does not change with exercise or dietary changes; extreme sensitivity to heat; cognitive dysfunction; and swelling, especially in the hands. Tension headaches and migraines, sometimes with jaw and eye pain, have been reported by almost all patients diagnosed with Dercum's Disease. Dercum's Disease can cause severe pain that can last for hours, be continuous, or may only happen at certain times. Depression, overall weakness and irritability may also accompany the disease. Dercum's Disease is also associated with congestive heart failure, myxedema, joint pain, tremors and hypertension. Sleep disturbances, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome and fibromyalgia can also be connected to Dercum's Disease.

    Almost all patients with Dercum's Disease report having headaches. (woman to hurt image by haruspex from

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    There is no overall treatment for Dercum's Disease, and symptoms are treated individually, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. Treatment options may include pain medications, weight loss and surgical removal of painful fatty tissues.

    Weight loss may help relieve some of the pain associated with Dercum's Disease. (libra image by Mitarart from

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    Although some researchers have suggested that Dercum's Disease is an autoimmune disorder, there is no officially known cause, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute.

    There is no known cure for Dercum's Disease. (cure s image by Andrey Kiselev from

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