Two rare adipose tissue disorders can also cause lymphedema: Lipedema and Dercum’s Disease.
Lipedema is a disorder most often found in females. The swelling is symmetrical in the legs and buttocks and has been know to occur in the arms. The symptoms include pain, bruising and swelling in the limbs, without foot involvement, and a family history of the condition. This diagnosis is due to an excess accumulation of fat in the subcutaneous tissue. It is important to balance the hormones, eat a healthy non-inflammatory diet, perform daily manual lymph drainage, exercise, and wear compression garments for the involved limb. People with lipedema can also develop lymphedema.
Dercum’s Disease consists of painful fat cells can be seen as nodules or spread diffusely where there are pockets of adipose tissue. The adipose tissue is encapsulated and has tentacles that attach to other tissue structures in the body. There are three potential sites of pain: the adipose tissue cyst, the strain to the tentacle and the attachment of the tentacle to other connective tissue.
Decreasing the pain and inflammation is priority when caring for people with Lipedema or Dercum’s Disease. This is done with manual therapy to release the strain patterns on the affected connective tissue, decrease inflammation, and support lymph flow with manual lymph drainage, and maintain it with compression therapy, pain reduction interventions, a non-inflammatory diet, with gentle to moderate functional movement exercises to tolerance. Currently, a training program is being developed to decrease the pain and inflammation in people with rare adipose tissue disorders.
Herbst KL. Rare adipose disorders masquerading as obesity. Acta Pharmacol Sinica 2012; 33(2): 155-172. PMID:22301856[PubMed – in process]
Yee JK, Phillips SA, Allamehzadeh K, Herbst KL. Subcutaneous adipose tissue fatty acid desaturation in adults with and without rare adipose disorders. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2012 Feb 3;11(1):19. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 22300160