What is eosinophilic fasciitis?
Eosinophilic fasciitis is a very rare condition in which the tissue under the skin and over the muscle (fascia) becomes swollen, inflamed, and thick. Most often, the skin on the arms, legs, neck, abdomen, and feet are affected and swell quickly. This disorder most commonly affects middle-aged adults.
Even though eosinophilic fasciitis may look similar to scleroderma, it is not related.
What causes eosinophilic fasciitis?
The exact cause of eosinophilic fasciitis is still largely unknown. However, people that have this condition also have a buildup of white blood cells (eosinophils) in the muscles and tissues. These eosinophils are also linked to allergic reactions, which may help reveal the cause of eosinophilic fasciitis.
In addition, a flare-up of eosinophilic fasciitis may be triggered by a strenuous physical exercise or activity.
What are the symptoms of eosinophilic fasciitis?
Tenderness and swelling of the skin on the arms, legs, and joints on both sides of the body is the characteristic sign of eosinophilic fasciitis. This onset is often acute, developing over a few days or weeks and progressing quickly. The following specific symptoms also commonly develop:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Muscle pain
- Thickened skin that looks puckered
In addition, it is also common for nonspecific symptoms to occur, such as fatigue, weight loss, fever, and malaise.
How is eosinophilic fasciitis diagnosed?
After a thorough clinical examination and a detailed patient and family history, the following tests can be done to confirm a diagnosis of eosinophilic fasciitis:
- CBC with differential
- Gamma globulins (a type of immune system protein) test
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- Muscle or skin biopsy that involves the deep tissue of the fascia
What are the available treatments for eosinophilic fasciitis?
The symptoms of eosinophilic fasciitis may be treated with corticosteroids and other immune-suppressing medications, which are most effective for treatment when they are begun early in the onset of the disease. In addition to these, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may also help reduce symptoms.
In most cases of eosinophilic fasciitis, the condition goes away within one to three years after the initial onset, but symptoms have been known to come back to last longer than this.
Where can I find more information on eosinophilic fasciitis?