Dercum's Disease

Dercum’s Disease (DD) is also called Adiposis Dolorosa. DD is a rare disorder, which is more common in women than men, and is characterized by multiple, painful growths of fatty tissue called lipomas. Usually, these lipomas are painful, especially when pressed or palpated. DD can be described as either Diffuse, Nodular or Mixed depending on the size and location of the lipomas.

  • Diffuse DD – small lipomas are found throughout the subcutaneous tissue usually
    beginning around the elbow and inner knee areas.
  • Nodular DD – the lipomas are larger and can be the size of marbles, golf balls or fist.
    These lipomas are usually found on the arms, rib cage, abdomen, low back, buttocks and thighs.
  • Mixed DD – frequently there is a mixed pattern that includes features of both diffuse and nodular lipomatous findings.

There is no blood test or x ray to diagnosis of DD. The diagnosis of DD is made clinically based on history and physical exam. Also, DD is considered a diagnosis of exclusion which means the diagnosis can be made after other conditions like lipedema, fibromyalgia and familial multiple lipomatosis are ruled out.