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Scleroderma Specialist

Valdosta Specialty Clinic

Rheumatology & Endocrinology located in Valdosta, GA

About 300,000 people in America have scleroderma. If you have this complicated and rare condition, you need expert care from specialists who understand how to diagnose and treat it correctly. Valdosta Specialty Clinic offers highly customized scleroderma care to help you manage this autoimmune disease comfortably. Book your appointment by calling the Valdosta, Georgia, office or scheduling online today.

Scleroderma Q&A

What is scleroderma?

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that damages skin, connective tissues, and internal organs. This disease can vary considerably among people who have it, both in severity and where the damage occurs. 

The two primary forms of scleroderma are:

Localized scleroderma 

Localized scleroderma causes skin problems, including discoloration, hardening, and scar tissue buildup. It may move into your bones, joints, and muscles as well, but it doesn't spread to your internal organs. 

Systemic scleroderma

Systemic scleroderma, the more severe type, can affect the same areas as localized scleroderma, along with your lungs, kidneys, and other internal organs. 

Scleroderma has additional forms within each of these categories based on how and where symptoms develop.

What are the symptoms of scleroderma?

Scleroderma symptoms depend on the type and subtype of the disease, and each person may experience symptoms differently. However, the most common symptoms are:

  • Joint pain
  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Skin thickening
  • Skin swelling
  • Skin tightening
  • Change in facial appearance
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon - fingers and toes change colors when cold
  • Heartburn
  • Acid reflux
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Constipation
  • Bloating
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Telangiectasias - prominent blood vessels in your face, hands, or around nails 

Untreated scleroderma can also cause serious damage to your organs, leading to other symptoms. For example, kidney damage can cause hypertension. 

How is scleroderma diagnosed?

Scleroderma diagnosis depends on a thorough clinical assessment. Therefore, your Valdosta Specialty Clinic rheumatologist carefully observes your symptoms and discusses them with you in detail. 

You may need imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound, or MRI. In some cases, you may also need blood tests, lung function tests, skin biopsy, and other types of diagnostic testing to eliminate other possibilities and verify that you have scleroderma. 

What is the best treatment for scleroderma?

Your treatment varies with your symptoms, disease complications, and other individual factors. 

Unfortunately, the drugs that work well for other autoimmune diseases, for example, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, aren't typically effective for scleroderma.

Your rheumatologist focuses on managing your symptoms individually. The treatment usually includes both symptom-specific medication and lifestyle modifications like dietary changes, taking extra measures to stay warm, and exercise to combat joint stiffness. 

Scleroderma requires specialized knowledge and compassionate care, which is why you can’t beat the experts at Valdosta Specialty Clinic for your scleroderma management. Call the office or schedule your visit online with the caring rheumatologist today.