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Rheumatologists & Rheumatology located in Glendale and Milwaukee, WI


Scleroderma services offered in Glendale and Milwaukee, WI

Scleroderma causes an overproduction of collagen that creates thick, hardened skin. At the Rheumatic Disease Center offices in Milwaukee and Glendale, Wisconsin, the experienced rheumatologists provide specialized treatment to patients with scleroderma. They use medication like corticosteroids to reduce your symptoms and prevent complications. Call your nearest Rheumatic Disease Center office today or book an appointment online for outstanding scleroderma care.

Scleroderma Q&A

What is scleroderma?

Scleroderma is a chronic (long-term) autoimmune disease. It causes inflammation in your skin and other parts of your body. As a result, your immune system instructs your body to increase collagen production.

Collagen is a protein that builds elasticity into connective tissues and skin. When you have scleroderma, collagen overproduction causes your skin and specific parts of your organs to harden.

The tissue that forms resembles scarring. The patches can be of various shapes, including ovals and straight lines. They can be shiny because the skin is so taut and restricts movement.

Are there different kinds of scleroderma?

Scleroderma takes two forms. Localized scleroderma mainly affects your skin, while systemic or generalized scleroderma affects many systems in your body. It’s more severe than localized scleroderma and can damage your internal organs.

Systemic scleroderma symptoms include:

  • Heartburn (acid reflux)
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Malabsorption (poor digestion)

Raynaud’s disease is an early symptom of systemic scleroderma. It causes blood vessels in your hands and feet to contract if you’re cold or under stress. Consequently, your fingers or toes turn blue and become numb or painful.

Scleroderma is relatively rare, usually developing in people 35-55, although it can occasionally appear in children. Scleroderma is four times more likely to affect women than men.

How is scleroderma diagnosed?

Scleroderma symptoms are similar to several other diseases, so diagnosing this disorder can be tricky. Blood tests can’t point directly to scleroderma but can identify several antibodies associated with the condition.

The Rheumatic Disease Center team will gather your medical history, complete a physical exam, and look for abnormalities on X-rays to make an accurate diagnosis.

How is scleroderma treated?

Finding effective scleroderma treatment is challenging because the main symptom is thickened, hardened skin that’s difficult to treat. The medication the Rheumatic Disease Center team uses when treating other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus is usually ineffective against scleroderma.

Steroid pills and creams help by relaxing stiffened skin and slowing down the changes. They also reduce joint pain and swelling.

Treating other scleroderma problems involves using medication specific to your symptoms. These could include:

  • Antacids or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Antibiotics

Physical and occupational therapy also help by keeping you mobile and controlling pain.

Call the Rheumatic Disease Center today or book an appointment online to learn more about scleroderma and how to manage it effectively.

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