improving quality of life


improving quality of life

Although there is no cure for Dercum’s Disease, your doctor can work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific, unique health needs. Very little research has been done to confirm an overall Dercum’s treatment program, but some research can provide clues to help get you and your doctor started. Please also check out our section on advice for simple lifestyle changes that several patients have found helpful in anecdotal instances.

As always, nothing on this site can take the place of your doctor’s direct care, advice, and expertise.

Pain Management

The most difficult aspect of treating Dercum’s Disease is managing chronic pain. It’s recommended that patients see pain management specialists to fully examine every option available to them and come up with a pain management plan that suits their specific needs. Multiple studies have found that traditional analgesics rarely have much affect, with opioids unfortunately being the most effective option for most patients. However some patients do well with paracetamol and dextropropoxifen.¹


Lidocaine patches have been found to be helpful in managing breakthrough pain. Lidocaine given intravenously¹ can for certain patients give total pain relief for a short period. However, because of the risks and side effects of repeated administration, this form of therapy is not recommended for continuous, long-term use.

Psychological Support

Living with Dercum’s Disease can be a very painful and difficult challenge. Several articles have also noted an increased risk for depression. Therefore it is important that patients receive any necessary psychological support not only from family and friends, but also from qualified mental health providers. As when dealing with any chronic condition, attitude, outlook, and emotional stability go a long way toward improving overall health and well-being.

Reducing Stress

Multiple studies have recommended that Dercum’s patients avoid monotonous, static work, as well as any physical and psychological stress. Excessive exercise, high-impact activities, and any potential irritants should be avoided whenever possible. It’s also recommended that patients seek the assistance of Occupational Therapists to identify any possible sources of unnecessary stress, and to develop changes in habits and coping mechanisms that could help to reduce strain and inflammation.


Liposuction can be considered for patients suffering from extreme, debilitating levels of diffuse painful fatty tissue, however the risks inherent with these procedures are high. A multi-year clinical study performed by the University of Malmo² did recognize a decrease in pain following liposuction procedures in most patients, however that decrease was minimal and pain often returned to previous levels after only a few years. Some patients also reported an unusually high degree of pain during surgical recovery. Given the risks – as with any surgical procedure – liposuction should not be considered a long-term solution and should only be used when absolutely necessary. If fibromyalgia is also an underlying problem, liposuction is not recommended.
It’s important to note, liposuction should not be used for the removal of lipomas.

Lipoma Removal

Surgical removal of lipomas has been shown to reduce pain in some patients, especially if the lipomas cause numbness or tingling. However many patients and case studies have reported that lipomas have regrown following removal.
There are also some anecdotal reports of lipomas developing following trauma or repeated irritation, including following surgical intervention. If the irritation can be removed or prevented, the pain might subside. However, this has not been fully studied beyond a few isolated case studies and cannot be considered as concrete fact. For more information, please visit our lipoma section.

Improving Diet & Lifestyle

Anything the Dercum’s patient can do to increase their overall health and well-being should be encouraged, including eating as healthy of a diet as possible and maintaining healthy habits. Although the Dercum’s fat most likely won’t be influenced by diet or exercise, continuing to maintain a healthy lifestyle will contribute to a much better quality of life. Try to eliminate any bad habits, such as smoking or drinking excessively. Regular low-impact exercise – such as swimming, aerobics, and stretching – should also be encouraged.