Dercum's disease is a very rare condition characterized by painful fatty lumps and nodules, called lipomas. Pain may be caused by the lipomas pressing on nearby nerves or by insufficient blood supply to the area and may be extreme and intense, continuous (lasting for hours), or may come and go in spasms. Patients may also experience more diffuse pain throughout fatty tissue. The condition is progressive and becomes worse over time.
Symptoms are usually first seen in adults, and the disease is less common in children and teenagers. The disease is most common in overweight postmenopausal women. However some patients who develop the disease are not obese. In general, Dercum's disease is thought to be a very rare condition.
The cause of Dercum's disease is not clear. Some evidence suggests it may be an inherited condition, but many cases have been reported that do not seem to involve genetic transmission from a parent to a child.
Currently, there is no known cure for Dercum's disease. Treatment focuses on management of symptoms, especially reduction of pain.
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