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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
Treatments and Therapies
- Available Treatments for Complications and Conditions Associated with Scleroderma (Scleroderma Research Foundation)
- Genetics Home Reference: systemic scleroderma (National Library of Medicine)
Statistics and Research
- Arthritis by the Numbers: Book of Trusted Facts & Figures (Arthritis Foundation) - PDF
- 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: The Vessels Contribute to Fibrosis in Systemic Sclerosis.
- Article: Overview of osteo-articular involvement in systemic sclerosis: Specific risk factors, clinico-sonographic...
- Article: Outcomes of patients with systemic sclerosis treated with tocilizumab: Case series...
- 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