Scleroderma is a group of diseases that cause a person’s skin or other connective tissues in the body to become hard and tight. In addition to affecting the skin, scleroderma may damage a person’s internal organs, attack their blood vessels, and even disrupt their digestive track. Since scleroderma can affect different parts of the body, the symptoms it produces vary.
If you suspect that you or someone you know has scleroderma, contact us today.
What Causes Scleroderma?
Scleroderma occurs when a person’s body over produces and over-accumulates collagen. Collagen is a protein that is essential for building the body’s connective tissues. Healthy collagen production leads to smooth, flexible skin.
Doctors are still learning what triggers abnormal collagen production in some people. However, it appears that the immune system plays a vital part. The immune system attacks the body, leading to inflammation and excessive collagen production.
This condition produces severe complications that can lead to a person developing gangrene in their toes and fingers, producing scarring in their lungs, kidneys and heart, developing tooth decay, developing digestive problems, and experiencing sexual dysfunction. Since the potential complications of scleroderma are so severe, it is recommended that a person experiencing these symptoms seek medical attention immediately.
The Symptoms of Scleroderma
Scleroderma symptoms vary based on which part of the body being affected.
For example, when this disorder affects the skin, a person will have hard, tight patches of skin on their body. Patches may be shaped like straight lines or ovals. The number of spots that a person has and the location of the patches will vary depending on the type of the disorder that they have. Their skin may take on a shiny appearance because it is so tight. Movement in the affected area is drastically limited.
This condition can also affect a person’s fingers and toes. It can cause hypersensitivity to cold temperatures or emotional distress. The individual’s toes and fingers become numb, feel pain, and begin to change colors. These symptoms have been referred to as Raynaud’s phenomenon, and the symptoms can also be present in people who do not have scleroderma.
When scleroderma affects a person’s digestive system, it can cause them to develop acid reflex which damages the esophagus near the stomach. Many people with this condition have a difficult time absorbing nutrients because their intestinal muscles are not working properly.
The rare instances where the condition affects a person’s heart, kidneys, or lungs can be life-threatening.
Scleroderma can affect both men and women. However, it more readily affects women between the ages of 30 and 50. It has no cure, but doctors can provide treatments that will minimize the symptoms and allow a person to enjoy a high quality of life.
At Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center, we offer our patients suffering from scleroderma biologics treatments. These can specifically target the areas of the immune system that are malfunctioning, and stop them from attacking the body.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment and begin working towards a customized treatment plan.