Scleroderma
Friday, June 19, 2009

Scleroderma is difficult to diagnose and can be extremely painful for its victims. Symptoms of the condition can make even the smallest task impossible. Dr. Edward Hill gives us the facts about scleroderma in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Scleroderma is characterized by chronic hardening and shrinking of the connective tissues of the body. This can include the connective tissues of any organ, including the skin, heart, esophagus, kidney or lung. Visible symptoms are swollen hands and feet and tightening of the skin.

The skin affected by scleroderma may be thickened, hard and rigid, and have pigmented patches.

Milder forms of scleroderma are most seen in persons in the 30 to 50 year age group, and affect women more than twice as often as men. More severe forms usually affect men, African Americans and older persons.

The cause of scleroderma is not known. Because the symptoms often mimic those of other diseases such as bursitis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, it can be difficult to diagnose.

Treatment includes drugs such as penicillamine, immunosuppressives and anti-inflammatory agents. Physiotherapy to restore and maintain musculoskeletal function is sometimes used. Diet therapy and small frequent feedings can help relieve the problems of malabsorption caused by intestinal involvement.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.