If one is to judge from the number of cases reported in the literature, adiposis dolorosa is a rather rare disease. Approximately 250 cases have been described in the world's literature since the original report of the condition by Dercum in 1888. It would seem that the infrequent occurrence of the disease is more apparent than real. Many cases are unrecognized as such and masquerade as endocrine obesity associated with arthritis or menopausal psychosis. Moreover, there has been a tendency in recent years, particularly on the continent, to deny the existence of Dercum's disease as a clinical entity. From a critical review of the literature and our studies of the cases to be described here, we are inclined with Laroche1 to look on it as a syndrome rather than as a disease per se.
The four cardinal signs of Dercum's syndrome are (1) adiposity, (2) asthenia, (3) pain and
WOHL MG, PASTOR N. ADIPOSIS DOLOROSA (DERCUM'S DISEASE): TREATMENT OF THE ASTHENIC PHASE WITH PROSTIGMINE AND AMINOACETIC ACID. JAMA. 1938;110(16):1261–1264. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790160019006
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