Adiposis Dolorosa Pain Management

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Hypobaric Pressure Therapy

Hypobaric pressure therapy has been offered as an alternative “touch-free” method for treatment of pain associated with edema. Herbst and Rutledge describe a pilot study focusing on hypobaric pressure therapy in patients with AD using a cyclic altitude conditioning system, which significantly decreased the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (tendency to catastrophize pain symptoms) in patients with AD after 5 days of therapy. VAS scores also demonstrated a linear decrease over 5 days.8


There have been no research studies or case reports regarding the use of either traditional full body acupuncture or BFA in management of AD. However, prior studies have been performed that suggest that acupuncture can be beneficial in chronic pain relief. For examples, a Cochrane review by Manheimer and colleagues showed that acupuncture had a significant benefit in pain relief in subjects with peripheral joint arthritis.19 In another Cochrane review there was low-to-moderate level evidence compared with no treatment in pain relief, but moderate-level evidence that the effect of acupuncture does not differ from sham (placebo) acupuncture.20,21


Current therapeutic approaches to AD focus on invasive surgical intervention, chronic opiate and oral medication management. However, we have detailed several additional approaches to AD treatment. Ketamine infusions, which have long been a treatment in other chronic pain syndromes may present a viable alternative to lidocaine infusions in patients with AD. Electrocutaneous stimulation is a validated treatment of chronic pain syndromes, including chronic neuropathic pain and offers an alternative to surgical or pharmacologic management. Further, PIT offers another approach to neuropathic pain management, which has yet to be fully explored. As no standard treatment approach exists for patients with AD, multimodal therapies should be considered to optimize pain management and reduce dependency on opiate mediations.

Hunter Holmes McGuire Research Institute and the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department provided the resources and facilities to make this work possible.

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