Conditions that come under the umbrella of scleroderma all have one thing in common — they tighten and harden your skin and connective tissues. If you're having problems that might be due to scleroderma, double board-certified rheumatologist Rosy Rajbhandary, MD, at Rheumatology Clinic of DFW, PLLC, in Burleson, Texas, can help. Dr. Rajbhandary provides expert treatments for scleroderma, including a range of medications to control your symptoms. To find out more about effective therapies for scleroderma, call the office or book an appointment online today.
Scleroderma isn't a single condition but a collection of rare diseases that cause your skin and connective tissues to harden and tighten.
There are numerous forms of scleroderma. Some only affect the skin, but others damage your blood vessels, digestive tract, and internal organs. The symptoms you experience when you have scleroderma vary according to which form of the condition you have, but may include:
Almost all patients with scleroderma develop patches of tight skin. These patches form different shapes, varying from ovals to straight lines. They may look shiny and restrict movement in the affected area because the skin is so taut.
Raynaud's disease is often an early sign of systemic scleroderma. It causes the blood vessels in your toes and fingers to contract when it's cold or if you're distressed. As a result, your fingers or toes go blue and feel numb or painful.
Scleroderma can cause various digestive system symptoms, such as:
Scleroderma can also affect heart, lung, and kidney function, which without treatment could become life-threatening.
Scleroderma develops because of abnormal collagen production. Collagen is a protein that’s part of the elastic connective tissues and skin. When you have scleroderma, your body makes too much collagen, which builds up in your tissues.
Why this happens isn't known. The most likely trigger is a combination of factors such as genetics, an immune system malfunction, and your environment. Women are more likely to develop scleroderma than men, but the condition could affect anyone.
Some patients with scleroderma find their skin problems clear up naturally after 2-5 years. However, systemic scleroderma, which affects your internal organs, typically worsens over time.
Medications can help control your scleroderma symptoms. In addition to medicines that reduce your pain, Dr. Rajbhandary can prescribe a selection of other drugs, including:
Steroid pills or creams help reduce joint pain and swelling, relax stiffened skin, and slow down skin changes.
Blood pressure medications dilate your blood vessels, which can treat Raynaud's disease and help prevent kidney and lung problems.
These drugs suppress your immune system.
Proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole reduce the acid levels in your stomach and relieve heartburn (acid reflux).
Antibiotics might be necessary if bacterial infections are causing digestive and other symptoms.
Physical and occupational therapy are also important to keep you mobile and independent and help manage your pain.
If you have symptoms that could be due to scleroderma, call Rheumatology Clinic of DFW, PLLC, today or book an appointment online.