Scleroderma is a chronic, connective tissue autoimmune disease that affects about 300,000 people in the United States. Scleroderma can cause a thickening and tightening of the skin and stiffening of the joints, as well as cause serious damage to the lungs, heart, kidney and gastrointestinal tract. In addition to the hardening patches of skin, early symptoms include an exaggerated response to cold temperatures or emotional distress, and acid reflux. The diagnostic process may require visits with a rheumatologist, a dermatologist, a blood study and other specialized tests. The onset is most often between the ages of 25 and 55. Early and proper diagnosis and treatment may minimize scleroderma symptoms and prevent irreversible damage. Treatments include medication, physical therapy and surgery. To learn more, click here.
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