Disease Definition

Scleroderma is a rare disease of  the vascular and immune systems and a disorder of the connective tissue. Scleroderma literally means “hard skin”.  There is NO KNOWN CAUSE and NO KNOWN CURE for Scleroderma.Scleroderma affects each person differently, no two cases are identical.  Sometimes it takes a long time to diagnose. Scleroderma causes the skin, underlying tissue and  the major internal organs to harden and lose functional ability. The body’s own immune system turns against itself and attacks its own tissues.Scleroderma is a chronic (long lasting) disease and is a rare form of Arthritis related to Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Scleroderma is not contagious or hereditary. Scleroderma affects men, women and children of every age and nationality.  It affects women four times more often than men. Symptoms can be mild or very severe.

The Symptoms of Scleroderma may  include:
* Cold, discolored fingers.  Hands and fingers become swollen, tight and hard and the circulation poor.
* Raynaud’s Phenomenon is seen in 90% of Scleroderma patiients.  This causes the fingers, toes and extremeties to be very sensitive to the cold.  They  turn blue, white, become painful and go numb and finally become pink again.
* Muscle weakness and joint pain
* Fatigue
* Shortness of breath
* Trouble swallowing
* Weight or hair loss
* Digestive problems
* Heart and lung problems
No one medication is a cure for Scleroderma.  Many drugs are used to treat various symptoms.
Patients should consult with knowledgeable doctors and other specialists, especially a Rheumatologist.
Exercise is important to maintain flexibilty.  A Physical therapist is very helpful.
Research is being conducted world wide to find a cause and then a cure for Scleroderma.
We have to keep a positive attitude and hope for a cure in the future!


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