Doctors thought it was a simple foot infection, but it was e
Dr. Milap Patel
Doctors thought it was a simple foot infection, but it was erythro­melalgia (EM).
Erythro­melalgia (EM), First described in 1878, the condition is characterized by red, hot and painful extremities, usually the feet and less commonly the hands. In some patients, the ears or face are affected. Some EM cases are caused by a genetic mutation, while others are the result of a blood disorder, including thrombocytosis, which occurs when the body produces too many platelets, disrupting normal clotting. But many people develop EM for no discernible reason. There is no cure for the disorder, which causes abnormalities in the way blood vessels dilate and constrict. Symptoms range from constant and extremely painful to intermittently bothersome; treatment largely consists of drugs to blunt the pain from flares and to help patients sleep, and of functional measures such as avoiding heat and elevating the legs.

While EM can improve, or even largely disappear, that doesn’t happen often. Bogner takes medicines to help her sleep and to try to blunt the worst of the flares, which can last from five minutes to all day. Avoidance is a key strategy; she stays out of the summer heat and sun, which can trigger a flare, and remains in air-conditioned settings as much as possible.

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