Women are five times more likely than men to have scleroderma, a condition that causes excessive collagen production and the progressive scarring of your skin and organs. The team at Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, has the experience and skills to diagnose this complex condition and provide ongoing management that slows down disease progression. If you have questions about scleroderma, call the office to book an appointment.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune condition that affects the connective tissues in your body. When you have scleroderma, your body overproduces collagen, which causes thickened and scarred areas of tissue.
There are two primary types of scleroderma. Localized scleroderma only affects your skin, while systemic scleroderma develops in your skin and internal organs, such as your lungs, heart, and kidneys.
The symptoms you develop depend on the body area affected by scleroderma:
Most people with scleroderma develop patches of hard, thick skin. The patches may be oval, form straight lines, and cover a limited area or a large part of your trunk and limbs. Patches of scleroderma are often tight enough to affect movement.
Raynaud’s disease is one of the earliest signs of systemic scleroderma. When you have Raynaud’s, cold temperatures and emotional stress make your fingers or toes turn white or blue and feel painful or numb.
If scleroderma affects the tissues in your digestive tract, you may experience difficulty swallowing, heartburn, stomach cramps, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea.
It’s common to experience inflamed, painful, and stiff joints.
If your heart, lungs, or kidneys are affected, you may develop, respectively, abnormal heart rhythms, difficulty breathing, and sudden, extreme high blood pressure. These problems can all become life-threatening if your scleroderma goes untreated.
Getting an early diagnosis followed by aggressive treatment is essential to stop the condition from progressing and causing serious complications.
Though lab tests can rule out other underlying conditions, there isn’t one definitive test for scleroderma. The condition is primarily diagnosed by a physical examination, so it’s important to consult an experienced rheumatologist like the ones at Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center.
Though localized scleroderma often heals, there’s currently no cure for systemic scleroderma. Your provider at Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center focuses on controlling your symptoms, relieving pain, and preventing complications.
For example, some medications may treat or slow skin changes, while others reduce symptoms by suppressing the immune system.
The team at Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center stays up to date with new therapies so they can provide the most current treatment possible. They also work closely with university-based rheumatologists to help patients with severe scleroderma.
If you have questions about your symptoms, call to schedule an appointment today.