June Awareness: Scleroderma

Scleroderma means hard skin. It is a group of diseases that cause abnormal growth of connective tissue. Connective tissue is the material inside your body that gives your tissues their shape and helps keep them strong. In scleroderma, the tissue gets hard or thick. It can cause swelling or pain in your muscles and joints.

Symptoms of scleroderma include:

  • Calcium deposits in connective tissues
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon, a narrowing of blood vessels in the hands or feet
  • Swelling of the esophagus, the tube between your throat and stomach
  • Thick, tight skin on your fingers
  • Red spots on your hands and face

No one knows what causes scleroderma. It is more common in women. It can be mild or severe. Doctors diagnose scleroderma using your medical history, a physical exam, lab tests, and a skin biopsy. There is no cure, but various treatments can control symptoms and complications.

Information provided by:  NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

For more information go to the Scleroderma Foundation at www.scleroderma.org

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