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Dercum’s disease is a rare condition, the most common symptom of which are growths composed of fatty tissue called lipomas. The growths sit just under the skin and often cause moderate to severe pain. Generally, lipomas develop on the torso, upper arms, and upper legs. Some people experience other symptoms, particularly if the lipomas press on nearby nerves. Experts and medical texts may also refer to Dercum’s disease as Anders disease and adiposis dolorosa.

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1. Four Cardinal Symptoms

Some doctors use four cardinal symptoms to diagnose Dercum’s disease. The first is the growth of painful lipomas in various locations. Physicians also consider obesity a cardinal symptom, particularly in individuals older than 45. The third symptom is a general feeling of weakness or fatigue, and the final symptom is actually a variable group of possible symptoms. Doctors look for any signs of emotional instability, epilepsy, confusion, dementia, or depressive disorder.

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