Erythromelalgia is an extremely rare condition that’s recognized as such by the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). It affects an estimated 1.3 out of 100,000 people in the United States. But as rare as it is, it can be debilitating for the individuals who have it.
If you or a loved one has erythromelalgia, finding answers is obviously your greatest priority.
What is Erythromelalgia?
Erythromelalgia is extremely uncommon. However, for those who suffer from the condition, it’s a painful condition that commonly affects the feet and (sometimes) the hands. People with the condition describe it as an intense, burning pain that can be both episodic or continuous. Some people experience sudden flare ups, while others have a more chronic form of the condition.
“In most individuals, it is episodic/intermittent, with episodes of red hot feet and/or hands intermittently,” NORD explains. “Symptom onset may be gradual (insidious), with the condition potentially remaining relatively mild for years. However, in others, it may have a sudden (acute) onset, possibly spreading and becoming severe over weeks.”
For those interested in the etymology of the word, the prefix erythro means “redness.” Mel means “limb.” The suffix algia is typically used to indicate “pain.” So the term, while difficult for most to pronounce correctly on the first attempt, quite literally means painful red limbs.
Other names and related conditions for erythromelalgia include erythermalgia, Mitchell disease, Weir-Mitchell disease, and Gerhardt disease.
Doctors generally discuss erythromelalgia in two classifications: primary and secondary. Both tend to have similar symptoms, including burning pain, itchiness, redness, warmth to the touch, sores on the feet, and even radiating/shooting pain.
Primary erythromelalgia has no known cause. It’s most commonly seen in children, but can technically impact anyone. Painful symptoms and discomfort usually affect both sides of the body and get worse in warmer weather. Primary erythromelalgia attacks begin with itchiness that then progresses into severe burning pain. These attacks may last anywhere from several minutes to days.
Secondary erythromelalgia is diagnosed in people who have other conditions and diseases, like autoimmune diseases. This type of erythromelalgia is more commonly seen in adults and usually begins in middle age. The symptoms are pretty much identical to those of primary erythromelalgia.
Tips for Living With Erythromelalgia
Since most doctors know very little about erythromelalgia, there are no known cures. Most people just have to learn to live with it. Having said that, there are certain things you can do to treat the symptoms and make flare ups less likely.
- See the Right Specialist
As frustrating as it is, most doctors simply don’t know much about erythromelalgia. And if you think about it, who can blame them? With just 1.3 out of 100,000 people suffering from this condition, they could go years without seeing an erythromelalgia patient in their office. Thankfully, there are specialists who are very familiar with this condition.
When choosing a specialist, look for someone who knows this disorder in and out. Untamed Iona, for example, has a specialist who actually has the condition herself! You can even book an online call with her (so it doesn’t matter where you’re located).
- Try Medication
Again, there’s no perfect medication that works for everyone with erythromelalgia. There are, however, effective options that can work. You must be open to trial and error.
Oral medications include options like magnesium selective serotonin, calcium antagonists, tricyclic antidepressants, reuptake inhibitors, and others. Topical medications include compounded creams (gel of 1 percent amitriptyline and 0.5 percent ketamine), capsaicin cream (Zostrix), and lidocaine and menthol (Lidoderm).
- Consider Surgery
While it’s definitely a last resort option, there are surgical treatments that can provide relief. The procedure, known as a sympathectomy, cuts nerve endings that send pain signals to the hands and feet. This procedure does come with the potential for serious side effects, including infection, bleeding, and permanent nerve damage. Thus it’s never an ideal choice.
Live Your Best Life
While there might not be a cure for erythromelalgia, there’s still plenty of hope. Just because you haven’t found relief yet doesn’t mean you never will. It’s a matter of speaking with the right people and trying a number of options until something works for you. Whether it’s eliminating a certain factor that seems to cause flare ups, using a specific medication, or even exploring surgery as an option, there are plenty of treatment methods. Don’t give up on yourself. You are your greatest advocate!
9 Simple Steps to Dealing with a Broken Tooth
Credit: freepik via Freepik
It’s movie night, and you have an obligatory bowlful of popcorn balancing on your lap. You toss a handful of popcorn and — crack — you unknowingly bite down on a kernel with the full power of your jaw.
Lightning strikes your mouth as you realize this humble kernel broke your tooth.
Besides pausing the movie and spitting out your mouthful of popcorn and tooth, you might not know your next steps.
What should you do, and how can you pay for it? Find the answers to these questions and more below:
1. Save the Pieces
If possible, save any broken pieces of the tooth. Your dentist might need these pieces.
2. Rinse Your Mouth
Gently rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Avoid using hot or cold water, as it might aggravate any exposed nerves.
3. Control Bleeding
If you bleed, apply gentle pressure to the area with a clean cloth or gauze. You can also use a cold compress on your jaw or cheek to reduce swelling.
4. Contact Your Dentist
Reach out to your dentist immediately. Explain the situation and try to schedule an emergency appointment. Many dentists reserve slots for urgent cases. If they don’t have a spot available, look at specialty emergency clinics in your area.
5. Get Over-the-Counter Pain Relief
Broken and chipped teeth can hurt, so take some over-the-counter pain relievers to help manage this pain until you can see your dentist.
6. Check Insurance Coverage
Review your dental insurance policy to understand coverage details. Some policies may cover emergency procedures, while others may have limitations.
7. Discuss Payment Options
If cost is a concern, discuss financing options with your dentist. Some dental offices offer flexible arrangements that give you a break. If you qualify for these plans, you might be able to push out your due date to coincide with your payday. You may even be able to break up your total outstanding amount over several payments.
8. Take out a Personal Loan
If you’re just shy of what you need to cover your emergency dental expense, consider going online to scope out personal loans. A personal loan may fill in for savings in urgent situations. You can quickly visit a website like MoneyKey to see what you need to apply. If approved, a personal loan gives you the means to pay for your visit upfront and pay off what you owe over time.
9. Consider Urgent Care Clinics
If your financial situation is such that you can’t afford a personal loan’s payments, reconsider your choice of dentist. Some dental practices apply a sliding scale to their services so that they can provide immediate care at a lower cost for at-risk individuals.
Next Steps: Thinking About the Future
So, you’ve managed to repair your tooth and pay the bill, too. What’s next? Make sure you hit these three goals soon. They can help you prevent another broken tooth in the future!
- Stay on Top of Dental Hygiene: Brush at least twice a day and floss once a day — these simple habits can protect your teeth over time.
- Schedule Regular Checkups: Keeping up with regular cleanings can also help you prevent future dental emergencies.
- Build an Emergency Fund: Sometimes, accidents happen. Consider building an emergency fund specifically for unexpected dental emergencies.
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