an introduction


an introduction

Dercum’s Disease presents a wide array of symptoms, which may seem – when seen individually – somewhat innocuous or common. You gain weight disproportionately, but you can’t explain why. You may develop lipomas (tumors made of encapsulated fat) in certain areas of your body, causing you a great deal of pain. You feel tired, you ache constantly, yet nothing seems to relieve your pain and exhaustion. You seem susceptible to infection, you bruise easily. And yet despite all of this, after a wide array of tests, your doctors can’t seem to explain why you have these strange myriad symptoms. You’re told to exercise, but nothing helps. Your diet doesn’t seem to affect your size. And that pain, it just won’t go away.



This site was created with the kind assistance and oversight of several medical doctors and specialists familiar with Dercum’s Disease. Our goal was to translate into layman’s terms the information found within the original published work of Dr. Francis Xavier Dercum, as well as Dr. Håkan Brorson & Dr. Birger Fagher’s landmark multi-year study of the disease, ‘Portrait of a Medical Enigma‘, published in The Journal of the Swedish Medical Association on April 10, 1996. We’ve endeavored to make the best peer-reviewed medical data available to patients and their families in easily understood, accessible language. As always, we encourage medical professionals to consult both our Articles section and PubMed for additional information.

     This unique combination of symptoms when put together, paint a seemingly hopeless and inexplicable picture of chronic pain and uncontrollable weight gain. Needless to say, this can be incredibly frustrating and depressing for the unknown number of women and men who are suffering from this seemingly rare and unfamiliar disease. Although Dercum’s Disease affects both genders, it is twenty times more prevalent among women. This is a disease that was first discovered by Francis Dercum in 1888, and yet so many people are suffering without treatment due to simple and straightforward lack of information. We can change this.

     At this time, it is impossible to know how many individuals suffer from Dercum’s Disease in the United States and around the world. Despite having been discovered well over one hundred years ago, it is still widely unknown to the medical community and has yet to be seriously and comprehensively studied. It is being actively pursued by a few doctors and medical institutions in Europe, primarily in Sweden, where it is estimated that 10,000 women are afflicted with Dercum’s. In a country with a population of just over 9 million people, imagine multiplying and extrapolating those 10,000 sufferers out to the 60 million people of the United Kingdom, the 82 million of Germany, or the nearly 296 million citizens of the United States. This is a disease that could result, at best, in a lifetime of chronic pain, or at worst in premature pulmonary failure. If the results of the studies in Sweden are any indication, this disease may not be as rare as was once believed. It is rapidly claiming the livelihoods of countless men and women in the United States alone.

     Despite the early discovery of this disease, too many people have been suffering in ignorance of the cause of their pain for well over a century. Many have died after lifetimes of criticism for their obesity, despite their best efforts to moderate their diets and exercise regularly. They have been denied a healthy normal life because of the constant pain brought on by this disease and have suffered the frustrations of the futility of their efforts to become well and whole. Countless numbers have suffered through all of this, without ever knowing why.

     This is truly senseless and must be changed. Treatment is possible and, through education and research, hope can be delivered to those who need it so desperately.

     We encourage everyone – from the average person to all medical professionals – to browse through this website and educate themselves about this disease. Even if you are not diagnosed with Dercum’s or have not suffered from any of its symptoms, your knowledge will help spread awareness of this condition and encourage others to be evaluated. If you are a medical professional, a basic understanding of this disease will help your patients who are searching for help and relief from chronic pain. Increased public awareness will help to save the lives of women everywhere who are suffering in silence.

     Please, read and discuss what you find here; it will help save a life or two, or perhaps a few million.

Throughout this site we will examine what peer-reviewed medical data is currently available about Dercum’s Disease, provide links to peer-reviewed published medical journal articles, offer a glimpse into the Dercum’s diagnostic process, address several common myths, and do our best to offer advice for simple lifestyle changes that seem to produce some anecdotal improvements in the quality of life of current Dercum’s patients. We want to make it clear, we are not selling anything, we do not accept donations, and we constantly strive to ensure that all information provided on this website is based on published, peer-reviewed, scientifically tested medical data. Anecdotal information is used sparingly and will always be clearly identified.

As always, nothing on this website can take the place of your doctor’s medical advice and expertise. If you suspect you may have Dercum’s Disease or any other possible lipid disease, please contact your doctor immediately and request that they search PubMed (an international database of peer-reviewed medical journal articles) for additional information.