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!
Getting to the Root of It! Lebanese Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Mohammad Waizani Explains Root Canal Treatments
Did you know that more than 15 million teeth are treated and saved every year? One of the most common treatments received are root canal treatments. At Dr. Mohammad Waizani’s clinic in Beirut, he specializes in making sure anyone who comes in with a root canal, leaves with a bright smile!
A root canal treatment is a dental procedure in which the soft center of the tooth called a ‘pulp’ is removed. The pulp is made out of blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves. In these cases, the pulp is infected after being exposed to bacteria that causes a lot of pain. The crown of the tooth is usually still intact despite the pulp being dead.
Root canals can be caused by several reasons such as a chip or cracked tooth, deep decay due to cavities that are left untreated, an injury to the tooth, and multiple procedures on the same tooth.
Some of the signs of root canal infections include the following:
- Constant toothache
- Heat sensation and swelling of gums
- Sensitivity to heat and cold
- Swollen jaw
- Discoloration of teeth
- Pain with applied pressure
Dr. Waizani explains how this surgical procedure works to remove the pulp and ensure the tooth doesn’t get infected. He starts by applying anesthetics to the gum and around the infected tooth. Next, the pulp is removed through a small opening at the top of the tooth. After the procedure is done, his patients’ recovery includes antibiotics to ensure that that infection does not flare up post-procedure. This is followed by a temporary filling.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, there is no need to panic. Contact Dr. Waizani to schedule your appointment!
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