Fauxcellarm and Spider Veins? I Don’t Know!


Though I work in a small niche on the frontier of modern medicine…Phlebology…or the field devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins and spider veins and the underlying issues that may lead to them…I really try to keep up with new and innovative ideas in many fields.




Many of the problems that doctors deal with have been around since…well…people have been around. Inflamed things, aches, clogged things, swollen things. Over time we’ve amassed textbooks full of clever ways of finding reasons and fixes for those problems. I know, I’ve read a bunch of them.


However…some problems are truly recent and we only have ourselves to blame. For instance:


  • Ipanemia: The inability to get the song “That Girl From Ipanema” out of your head once someone puts the idea there. Sorry I just did that to you.

  • Text Thumb: arthritis of the first digit due to excessive texting. I don’t think its really a thing yet, but I expect current teens will discover they have this in 2030.

  • Retinitis Zohanosis : the inability to “unsee” Adam Sandler’s “Zohan” movie. While there is no cure, one soothing balm for those nasty flare-ups might be to watch Spanglish or Blended instead…or read anything by Neal Stephenson (new book, Seveneves…awesome!)


Some real issues are purely as a result of technology. I try to keep up as best I can…sometimes some things slip under the radar. The one that has been lurking around for a few years but only recently came to my attention was “Phantom Vibration Syndrome” or “Fauxcellarm”.


confused spider vein woman cell phone
Im not sure if you’ve experienced it…but I know I have…and that is the feeling that your thigh is buzzing because the silent vibration ringer on your cellphone is going off…only to learn that it didn’t actually happen. You’re not crazy; it really is a thing!


It’s happened to me a few times, but I never knew there was even a word for it until a patient recently came to see me in consulation and thought that the odd vibrations she was feeling related to some spider veins on her lateral thigh that had been present for years.


After a thorough history and exam…including a neurologic exam…and an ultrasound to determine if any underlying superficial venous insufficiency was present (there wasn’t any)…I had to tell the patient something that I am very comfortable saying, when appropriate: I DON’T KNOW. Sure, veins can be symptomatic..even tiny ones…but they don’t typically make you feel like your thigh is buzzing. Hence, “I don’t know”.


“I don’t know” is probably the single-most important phrase a doc can learn.


BUT…it has to be followed up with the commitment to look for an answer. So, I spent part of the weekend doing what any nerd with a passion for knowledge (and a strong feeling of guilt instilled by an uber-jewish-mother) would do: I looked it up.


What I love more than the fact that I actually found a potential answer to the “vibrating thigh” question, was that someone came up with such a clever name as “fauxcellarm”…genius.


See..docs have senses of humor,too! In fact, I can admit that



residency (plural for me)



…was (were) a lot of work, but PLENTY of good clean nerdy fun! I often tell folks that it’s like year-round [nerdy] summer camp: like-minded youngsters with similar interests learning arts and crafts (albeit scientific ones like placing IV lines, fancy skin closures), playing video games (endoscopy, endovascular techniques, lapraroscopy/robotics) and eating smores. Only substitute “bad cafeteria pizza” with smores. Good times.


So…let’s recap today’s post:


1. Phantom Vibration Syndrome (fauxcellarm) is a thing.


2. Being able to say “I don’t know” is what got us out of the caves…into civilization…printing books…flying, to Pluto & beyond…AND…every signficant medical breakthrough ever made. I’m cool with saying it…it leaves me in pretty clever company.


3. Embarking on a medical carreer is tough…but it’s plenty of fun. Other than being a husband and dad, there’s no greater feeling than helping to fix a broken person [that sentence is BEGGING to be put in jump quotes…so I will].



“Other than being a husband and dad, there’s no greater feeling than helping to fix a broken person…”




OK…got that out of my system. I think I may have come down with Quotidian Fever. Sorry, one medico-geek joke too many.


So…if you’d like to come visit and learn about state-of-the-art vein care,

I don’t know

if you can find a friendlier, more comfortable place to go. My assistant Maria and I do our best to help your legs to feel and look better than they have in years.

Call 847-272-8346

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