If you suffer from chronic or intermittent pain from erythromelalgia, then you know just how frustrating and debilitating it can be. And while there aren’t many available solutions, there are plenty of effective treatment options for lessening the pain and discomfort.
What is Erythromelalgia?
According to NHS, “Erythromelalgia is a rare condition that causes episodes of burning pain and redness in the feet, and sometimes the hands, arms, legs, ears, and face. Symptoms of erythromelalgia can begin at any age. Some people may have had it from early childhood, while some are only affected as adults.”
Erythromelalgia is a confounding disease that doctors have had a hard time understanding over the years. When a doctor diagnoses this disease, they typically look for the presence of one or more of the following three symptoms: heat, pain, and redness of the skin.
Feet are most commonly affected by erythromelalgia, but hands, legs, arms, ears, and parts of the face can be as well. Pain ranges from a mild discomfort, tingling feeling (like pins and needles) to severe burning pain. In extreme cases, it can be enough pain to prevent people from sleeping, walking, or standing.
Some people experience random erythromelalgia flare-ups that last from several minutes to several days. Other people have chronic conditions that last for months at a time and never fully go away.
Erythromelalgia Pain Management Tips
Because erythromelalgia is so rare (and so little is known about the cause), there aren’t many treatment options. And, to date, doctors have no reliable cure. However, there are plenty of ways to manage the pain, reduce the severity of symptoms, and live a fairly normal life.
Here are several of those tips:
1. Work With the Right Health Professionals
Your primary care doctor might be able to diagnose you with erythromelalgia, but that’s probably as far as they’re going to go. With so few answers in the medical community, they’ll probably give the basic advice to pop an aspirin when the pain gets bad and ensure you’re practicing healthy lifestyle habits. Simply put, that’s all they know to do.
If you want to proactively treat your condition, you need to work with health professionals who understand this rare disease. They can help you treat the symptoms and the underlying issues at play.
Waiting to get into the Mayo Clinic for a meeting with a specialist could take months. Thankfully, there are alternatives. One of the most well-respected doctors in this community is Dr. Lauren Sparks. Not only does she specialize in helping patients deal with the condition, but she actually has an erythromelalgia diagnosis herself.
This led her to discover the proper way to treat erythromelalgia on her own. She uses a combination of methods, including functional medicine, psychotherapy, medication, supplements, etc. She even offers virtual erythromelalgia consultations.
2. Know Your Triggers
One of the most important steps you can take is understanding what triggers your flare-ups and symptoms. For most patients, it’s one or all of the following:
- Standing for long periods of time
- Wearing warm socks, tight gloves, or tight shoes
- Feeling stressed
- Entering a warm room
- Drinking alcohol or spicy foods
If you’re able to identify the one or two triggers that cause you the most issues, you’ll find it much easier to avoid flare-ups and keep your pain in check. This doesn’t mean you’ll feel perfect all the time, but you can at least reduce the pain to a reasonable level.
3. Try Medication
Finally, if you’re unable to reduce your symptoms after meeting with a specialist and eliminating triggers, you may want to experiment with some different medications.
There are two basic types of erythromelalgia medication. The first category includes topical medicines applied to the skin. These come in a variety of forms, including sprays, creams, gels, and patches. One popular option is lidocaine.
The other category includes oral medications that are prescribed by your doctor. This may include a combination of dietary supplements (like magnesium), aspirin, anti-epilepsy medication, blood pressure medication, and/or low doses of antidepressants.
Don’t Stop Until You Find Relief
When you have a rare condition like erythromelalgia, it’s frustrating. There aren’t always a ton of answers and very few people understand how you feel. Thankfully, all is not lost. As these pain management suggestions show, there are ways to treat your condition and minimize discomfort. Try them and let us know how they work for you!