Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune disease that affects the connective tissues that provide support and structure to various parts of our bodies. Also known as systemic sclerosis, it causes our immune system to mistakenly attack healthy tissues, leading to the thickening and hardening of the skin and other organs.
Does Scleroderma Have Symptoms?
Scleroderma can present a range of symptoms, from mild to severe, that vary from person to person. Here are some of the common symptoms:
- Thickening and hardening of the skin, especially on the fingers, hands, and face.
- Raynaud’s phenomenon: Color changes in the fingers and toes due to poor blood circulation in response to cold or stress.
- Joint pain and stiffness.
- Digestive problems, such as acid reflux and difficulty swallowing.
- Shortness of breath and lung complications.
- Fatigue and muscle weakness.
What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Scleroderma?
The exact cause of scleroderma is still not known, but scientists believe that a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors contribute to its development. The risk factors include:
- Gender: Females are more likely to develop scleroderma than males.
- Age: Scleroderma can occur at any age, but it is most commonly diagnosed in adults between the ages of 30 and 50.
- Family history: Having a close family member with scleroderma or another autoimmune disease may increase the risk.
How We Diagnose Scleroderma
Diagnosing scleroderma can be difficult, as it shares symptoms with other conditions. There is no single test for the condition. Instead, the doctor will perform a complete history and physical exam, as well as various tests, such as blood tests, breathing tests, skin biopsies, and imaging studies, to confirm the diagnosis.
Although there is currently no cure for scleroderma, there are a variety of treatment options that can help manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease. These may include:
- Medications to relieve symptoms and suppress the immune system.
- Physical therapy to help you maintain mobility and flexibility.
- Occupational therapy to improve daily living activities.
- Regular monitoring by a healthcare team that specializes in scleroderma.
Choose SMC Physicians
Because scleroderma can affect many organ systems, you may need to see a variety of medical specialists. Early diagnosis and proper management by a specialized healthcare team can help alleviate symptoms, slow down disease progression, and prevent potential complications associated with this rare autoimmune disease. Our Rheumatology team at SMC Physicians will work with you to find the most suitable treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.
Conditions We Treat
We provide ultrasound-guided arthrocentesis (joint injections) of both steroids and gel injections such as Orthovisc and Synvisc.
We offer a state-of-the art private infusion center at each location, offering the following medications and more:
Our Rheumatology Locations: