When you have erythromelalgia (EM), it’s easy to fall for many misconceptions online about the disorder. Remember the EM myths below, so you have the most accurate information and know there is hope for treating the mental and physical aspects of the condition.
EM Only Affects The Hands And Feet
The hands and feet are most often affected by the burning, painful sensations from this disorder. But patients report that they also have similar symptoms on the arms, legs, face, and even eyes.
Only Adults Get EM
Most patients are adults, but note that it can take years to get an accurate diagnosis because it’s such a rare condition.
Some patients say that they first noticed their EM symptoms when they were less than 10 years old.
Heat And Pain Are The Only Symptoms
Most EM patients note that their common symptoms are intense, burning pain in the hands and feet. But you also can have swelling, extreme sweating, and even purple discoloration in the extremities.
Triggers Are Unknown
EM is difficult to diagnose and treat, but we know what may trigger an attack, including entering a warm room, drinking alcohol, and eating spicy foods.
You also may experience symptoms when you work out, wear tight shoes, or put on gloves. Some patients may have symptoms when they experience stress or intense emotions, which is why it’s essential to work with a mental health professional to manage the condition.
We Don’t Know What Causes EM
We do not always know what causes every patient to have the condition, but it’s known that primary EM can be due to a gene mutation. TheIn addition, some SCN9A gene is affected in these cases, which handles how our nerves send pain messages to the brain.
Other primary EM cases are idiopathic, and we don’t know what causes them. The only option with these patients is to treat the symptoms.
Secondary EM Only Has One Cause
In addition, there can be many causes of secondary EM, which is due to another condition or illness.
Medical professionals report that secondary EM can be due to multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders, nerve damage, and several blood disorders.
Also, you can have this type of EM by taking calcium channel blockers and antidepressants. Fortunately, you may make the symptoms disappear when you stop taking those medications.
You should talk to your doctor about other medications you can take that help you that don’t trigger EM symptoms.
There Is No Way To Treat EM
Treating EM is challenging because every patient responds to treatments differently. You may need to go through a frustrating trial and error process with your doctor to find treatments that work for you.
Also, it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine if you have primary or secondary EM because this affects your treatment plan.
If you have secondary EM, the best way to treat your symptoms is to treat your primary condition first. But treating the primary disease doesn’t always help, so you would need to treat the EM.
Some patients report that they have symptom relief from gels, sprays and creams that treat burning pain. Lidocaine capsaicin creams can help because they make the heat receptors in the hands and feet less sensitive.
You also may lessen your symptoms by taking aspirin, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants.
It’s always vital to talk openly and honestly with your doctor about your symptoms and triggers so you can find the best treatment options.
Hopefully, you now know more about EM, including possible triggers and how to treat the disorder. When you work closely with your physician, you can usually find ways to manage your erythromelalgia symptoms.