People with Dercum's disease often experience tissue damage due to the presence of the fatty bumps called lipomas on the body. The size of the lipomas can range from a grain of rice up to ten pounds in weight, which can stretch both surrounding skin and muscle tissue. Lipomas also constrict the nerve endings in the body, which causes someone to experience intense pain. Especially painful lipomas can be removed surgically, but frequent surgeries may cause health risks such as tissue damage.
Some people with Dercum's disease treat muscle pain with a type of massage called Manual Lymphatic Drainage. This is a type of moderate muscle therapy which attempts to rub out pain caused by swelling using gentle hand motions. However, it can cause further tissue damage if attempted by a non- licensed professional.