What is Eosinophilic Fasciitis?
Eosinophilic Fasciitis is an extremely rare pathological condition in which the tissues beneath the skin get inflamed, swollen, and painful and with time as the disease condition progresses make the arms and legs extremely hard and not as supple.
Eosinophilic Fasciitis gets its name from the increased number of eosinophils that is present in individuals with Eosinophilic Fasciitis, and the fascia which gets inflamed and hard as a result of this buildup of eosinophils. Eosinophilic Fasciitis damages the connective tissue to some degree as well.
It can also be caused due to inflammation when some part of skin is removed for testing purposes for some other medical condition. Majority of the cases of Eosinophilic Fasciitis can be successfully treated by administration of steroids. There is no known cause for Eosinophilic Fasciitis but in most of the cases males between the ages of 30 and 50 tend to get Eosinophilic Fasciitis.
What are the Causes of Eosinophilic Fasciitis?
As stated, there is no known cause of Eosinophilic Fasciitis. It is just that there is a gradual buildup of eosinophils in muscles and tissues causing them to become hard. Certain allergic reactions have been linked to increased number of eosinophils but it is yet to be confirmatively proved to be a cause for Eosinophilic Fasciitis.
What are the Symptoms of Eosinophilic Fasciitis?
The initial clinical presentation for Eosinophilic Fasciitis is pain, swelling, and inflammation of the skin especially in the inner half of the arms and the front part of the legs. In some cases, the skin surface of the chest and abdomen may also be affected due to Eosinophilic Fasciitis.
In the first phase of the disease process, the symptoms may be felt after a strenuous activity which gradually progresses to having symptoms even at rest as well. As the condition progresses, the skin starts to become hard making it difficult for the individual to move the hands and legs fluently.
Ultimately, the arms and legs may freeze in certain awkward position from which it may become very tough for the individual to get it back to normal. Unintentional weight loss and persistent fatigue are also quite common symptoms seen in Eosinophilic Fasciitis. There may also be muscle and joint pain.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is also said to occur in some cases due to Eosinophilic Fasciitis. In some cases of Eosinophilic Fasciitis, the RBCs and platelets tend to become very less causing the individual to feel fatigued persistently and even bleed easily. Some cases of aplastic anemia and abnormally low platelet count have also been noted with Eosinophilic Fasciitis.
How is Eosinophilic Fasciitis Diagnosed?
The symptom presented by the patient to the treating physician is a virtual give away that the patient is suffering from Eosinophilic Fasciitis. For confirmation, the physician may do a blood test which will show increased levels of eosinophils in the blood and the level of erythrocyte sedimentation rate is also increased indicating inflammation. A biopsy of the affected skin and fascia is then taken to confirm the diagnosis of Eosinophilic Fasciitis.
How is Eosinophilic Fasciitis Treated?
The front line and most successful treatment for Eosinophilic Fasciitis is administration of steroids. The treatment for Eosinophilic Fasciitis should be started as soon as the diagnosis is made to prevent any scarring, loss of tissue and contractures from developing. The steroids are given in tapering doses but may need to be continued for up to may be even 3-5 years for complete treatment of Eosinophilic Fasciitis.
NSAIDs are also quite effective in calming down pain and inflammation caused due to Eosinophilic Fasciitis. If an individual has gone on to develop contractures and carpal tunnel syndrome then surgery may be required to correct those conditions caused due to Eosinophilic Fasciitis.
The patient will be closely monitored throughout the treatment process with periodic blood work so as to prevent any blood disorder from developing, and if present can be treated effectively, as a result of Eosinophilic Fasciitis.
What is the Prognosis of Eosinophilic Fasciitis?
In majority of cases, a patient can be successfully treated from Eosinophilic Fasciitis in a span of about five years, although the chances of the symptoms recurring are quite high. In some cases, symptoms may persist for a longer period of time even after timely treatment of Eosinophilic Fasciitis. If the condition is not treated adequately and the patient goes on to develop blood disorders then the overall prognosis becomes severely guarded in terms of recovery from Eosinophilic Fasciitis.