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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.
NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Diagnosis and Tests
- ANA (Antinuclear Antibody) Test (National Library of Medicine)
Treatments and Therapies
- Current Treatments Available for Scleroderma Patients (Scleroderma Research Foundation)
- Genetics Home Reference: systemic scleroderma (National Library of Medicine)
Statistics and Research
- International Team Identifies Biomarker for Scleroderma (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
- Novel Insights Into Causes of Scleroderma Offer Potential New Treatment Strategies (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Clinical phenotypes and survival of pre-capillary pulmonary hypertension in systemic...
- Article: Acute and chronic effects of two different intravenous iloprost regimens...
- Article: Disease course and long-term outcome of juvenile localized scleroderma: Experience...
- Scleroderma -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Find a Rheumatologist (American College of Rheumatology)
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Also in Spanish
- Juvenile Scleroderma (Scleroderma Foundation) - PDF