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How is EM diagnosed?

Erythromelalgia can be diagnosed through observation and interview of the patient. A doctor who has knowledge of erythromelalgia (or the symptoms of autonomic nervous system dysfunction), can make a diagnosis of EM by asking pertinent questions of the patient and observing the affected body parts. The doctor will be looking at "tell-tale" signs of EM, such as, hot feet, burning pain and/or redness occurring in warm or increased temperatures, after exercise or extended period of time on feet and worsening in the evening/night time hours.

Another critical element of the diagnosis of EM is how the person can attain relief from the pain and discomfort: through elevation and cooling of the involved extremity (hands, feet, toes, etc.) The patient must tell the doctor about their method of attaining relief and any other affect the symptoms have on their lifestyle.

When a doctor does not have knowledge of EM . . .

Since EM is a rare disease, many, many doctors will have never seen the symptoms of EM in all the years they have been practicing and never read or heard about EM.

Therefore, the patient should be prepared for these circumstances by bringing a copy of:

  • the article by Steven P Novella, Fuki M Hisama, Sulayman D Dib-Hajj, Stephen G Waxman entitled, "A Case of Inherited Erythromelalgia: Differential Diagnosis", with emphasis on Table 1 (This article can be viewed and printed under the Treatment section of the Articles on this website)

  • The Erythromelalgia Association brochure