Other Names for this Disease
- Dercum disease
- Dercum's disease
What are the signs and symptoms of adiposis dolorosa?
What causes adiposis dolorosa?
Is adiposis dolorosa inherited?
Is genetic testing available for adiposis dolorosa?
How might adiposis dolorosa be treated?
Adiposis dolorosa is primarily characterized by the development of muliple, painful lipomas (benign, fatty tumors). It is often associated with obesity; physical weakness and lack of energy (asthenia); and various other symptoms including depression, confusion, dementia and/or epilepsy (seizures).
The lipomas occur anywhere in the body except the face and neck. The most common sites are the knees, upper thighs, back and upper arms. They may cause joint pain (arthralgia) when they are near the joints. Pain associated with the lipomas can be debilitating; it usually worsens with movement or an increase in body weight. Sparse pubic hair and underarm hair have been reported in some individuals. The condition can also be associated with early congestive heart failure, severe hypothyroidism, joint pain, flushing episodes, tremors, cyanosis, high blood pressure, headaches, and nosebleeds.
Because this condition has rarely occurred in more than one individual in some families, it may have a genetic component. However, no specific gene known to be associated with the condition has been identified.
It is unknown why adiposis dolorosa usually occurs in people who are overweight or obese, or why the signs and symptoms do not appear until mid-adulthood.
Pain can sometimes be relieved by injections of steroids such as prednisone or intravenous lidocaine. Interferon alpha 2b for pain relief is being explored as a therapy for some people. Traditional pain relievers, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, usually are not very efficient.
An article from Medscape Reference provides additional information on treatment for adiposis dolorosa. You may need to register to view the article, but registration is free.
- Learning about Dercum Disease. National Human Genome Research Institute. July 2010; http://www.genome.gov/17516629. Accessed 5/13/2011.
- Louis Dubertret. Adiposis dolorosa. Orphanet. May, 2008; http://www.orpha.net/consor/cgi-bin/OC_Exp.php?Lng=EN&Expert=36397. Accessed 11/11/2013.
- Adiposis dolorosa. Genetics Home Reference. July, 2012; http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/adiposis-dolorosa. Accessed 11/11/2013.
- Marjan Yousefi, M.D. . Adiposis Dolorosa Treatment & Management. eMedicine. November 2007; http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1082083-treatment. Accessed 5/13/2011.