What Is Adiposis Dolorosa (AKA Dercum’s Disease)?
Adiposis dolorosa, a disorder that is also known as Dercum’s disease, is a condition that causes folds of fatty tissue to form on the body. Another way that the condition may present itself is through the formation of benign tumors. Women are more susceptible to this condition, and the disease is most prevalent in individuals who are overweight or obese. While this condition can present itself at any time, adults between the ages of 35 and 50 are more likely to develop the disease than any other age group.
Fatty tissue generally forms on the torso, buttocks or arms. The hard bumps that form when fatty tissue is deposited can cause severe pain or burning. Pain may subside and come back, but some sufferers experience ongoing pain.
Adiposis Dolorosa Symptoms
While fatty tissue and tumors define this condition, there are additional symptoms that are experienced. General weakness and fatigue are common, and people who suffer from Dercum’s disease may be unable to stand or walk for any significant period of time.
Depression, difficulty concentrating and irritability are also common symptoms associated with this condition. Recurrent seizures and a progressive decline in mental function may occur. Dementia can occur at an accelerated rate in people who have Dercum’s disease. Other symptoms may include:
- Sudden weight gain
- Joint pain and muscle stiffness
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Difficulty sleeping
Adiposis dolorosa symptoms may vary by individual. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms. The symptom that is constant among everyone with this disorder is the pain, which can be debilitating.
Types of Adiposis Dolorosa
Just as symptoms vary, so do the types of adiposis dolorosa. There are three types that can be diagnosed based on the location of the pain.
Type 1 – Juxta-articular
This type of adiposis dolorosa is diagnosed when the pain is found on the inside of the knees, on the hips, and/or in the upper arm.
Type 2 – Diffuse
This type of adiposis dolorosa is the most common type. The pain is widespread and can be experienced anywhere from the upper arm all the way down to the soles of the feet.
Type 3 – Lipomatosis
This type of adiposis dolorosa is diagnosed when there is the presence of a benign, fatty tumor, which is also known as a lipoma. There will typically be intense pain wherever the lipoma is found.
Adiposis Dolorosa Prognosis and Diagnosis
The prognosis of Dercum’s disease is that it’s a chronic condition that develops gradually. If a patient has multiple painful lipomas, abnormal weakness or fatigue, any kind of mental instability, and general obesity, doctors will diagnose them with Dercum’s disease. Since not everyone presents every symptom, doctors may also diagnose patients with this disorder if they have multiple painful lipomas and general obesity at the minimum. Ultrasounds and MRIs may be necessary to help get an accurate diagnosis.
Adiposis Dolorosa Causes
While no known cause has been found for a Dercum’s disease, some doctors believe that it could be an autoimmune or endocrine disorder. Others have suggested that it could be caused by long-term use of corticosteroids with high doses, impairment of the nervous system and/or adipose tissue, or changes to the carbohydrate metabolism or in fatty acid. There is little understanding as to how the pain and lipomas originate, which makes it hard to pinpoint a cause.
Adiposis Dolorosa Treatment
Treatment for adiposis dolorosa is handled by treating the symptoms, not the actual disorder. Unfortunately, this condition is difficult to manage and the reduction of pain is not long-lasting. While surgical options such as liposuction have been known to be helpful, it doesn’t guarantee that lipomas won’t return. Therefore, treatment is mainly focused on alleviating the pain through medications such as prednisone, methotrexate, or certain cortisone injections.
Can You Get Disability For Adiposis Dolorosa?
People who suffer from Dercum’s Disease may wonder if they can qualify for SSD benefits. If an individual experiences symptoms and complications that make it impossible for them to complete job tasks in any position for which they are qualified, the person may be able to qualify for benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate proof of disability to determine whether symptoms and complications are severe enough to make it impossible for the applicant to work. This is why it is important for sufferers to seek medical attention. A licensed medical provider can put together the required records that outline the results of diagnostic tests. Information about the frequency and severity of symptoms should also be recorded by a medical professional.
The SSA evaluates each individual application by determining whether applicants are able to work in their current position. If the applicant cannot perform job tasks with accommodation, the SSA will look into the work history of the individual to determine whether the applicant could work in any position for which they are qualified. People who have experience in a position that requires limited physical movement may be expected to find a different job instead of receiving benefits.
Getting Help From an Attorney
Applying for disability benefits is not a straight-forward process. The paperwork that is required in order for an application to be considered contains multiple parts. Applicants often feel overwhelmed and alone when they are trying to get the benefits that they need to pay for housing and other basic necessities. A skilled SSD attorney can provide the guidance needed to get disabled individuals through the application process. Attorneys understand the requirements that the SSA maintains and ensure that these requirements are met to increase the chances that their clients will be approved.
To discuss SSD and SSI claims or appeals, please call us at (215) 464-7200 or email the attorneys of Chermol & Fishman, LLC. The initial consultation is free, and we never charge a fee until we win your case.