Fibromyalgia and Livedo Reticularis


by:  Aimee Reese

You will find many articles, forums, and blogs on Fibromyalgia and Livedo Reticularis out there.  Those of us that have Fibromyalgia may also have Livedo Reticularis.  We may not in the beginning, but it could develop later down the line.

What exactly is Livedo Reticularis?  I asked myself the same thing when my doctor said that is what I was suffering from, the name is enough to scare the crap out of you.

Livedo Reticularis is a common skin finding consisting of a mottled reticulated vascular pattern that appears as a lace-like purplish discoloration of the skin.  The discoloration is caused by swelling of the venules owing to obstruction of capillaries by small blood clots. The blood clots in the small blood vessels can be a secondary effect of a condition that increases a person’s risk of forming blood clots, including a wide array of pathological and non-pathological conditions. Examples include hyperlipidemia, microvascular hematological or anemia states, nutritional deficiencies, hyper- and autoimmune diseases, and drugs/toxins.

The condition may be normal or related to more severe underlying pathology.  Its differential diagnosis is broadly divided into possible blood diseases, autoimmune (rheumatologic) diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and endocrine disorders. It may be aggravated by exposure to cold, and occurs most often in the lower extremities.

There are two types of Livedo Reticularis; one is Primary Livedo Reticularis, and the other is Secondary Livedo Reticularis. Both conditions have similar symptoms.

Primary Livedo Reticularis, also known as Idiopathic Livedo Reticularis, is when the cause of the condition is unknown. When Livedo Reticularis is secondary to an identifiable cause, it is called Secondary Livedo Reticularis.

Idiopathic Livedo Reticularis is a common skin condition in which the skin of the lower legs has a lace-like pattern, because of the dilatation of medium-sized blood vessels under the skin. The lace or mesh-like pattern can also occur in the arms, chest, and back.

The enlargement of the blood vessels results in a sluggish venous blood flow. Venous blood is low in oxygen, and hence it gives a bluish hue to the affected skin.

Idiopathic Livedo Reticularis is a benign condition that gets worse during winters. There is no particular treatment for the condition.

I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Livedo Reticularis about three years ago.  This was embarrassing because my legs looked like I had a million broken blood vessels in them.  It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen.  I was in pain, and they were swollen, and I knew something was not right.

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