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Scleroderma

Scleroderma Symptoms and Causes

About Scleroderma

Scleroderma, also called systemic sclerosis, is a chronic, degenerative disease that affects the joints, skin, and internal organs. Scleroderma is also associated with blood vessel abnormalities.

Scleroderma Symptoms

Scleroderma can lead to scarring of the skin, joints, and other internal organs. The following are the most common symptoms of scleroderma. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Thickening and swelling of the tips of the fingers
  • Pale and tingly fingers that may become numb when exposed to cold or when emotionally upset (called Raynaud's phenomenon)
  • Joint pain
  • Taut, shiny, darker skin on large areas such as the face, that may hinder movement
  • Appearance of spider veins
  • Calcium bumps on the fingers or other bony areas
  • Grating noise as inflamed tissues move
  • Frozen (immobile) fingers, wrists, or elbows due to scarring of the skin
  • Sores on fingertips and knuckles
  • Scarring of the esophagus, leading to heartburn and difficulty swallowing
  • Scarring of the lungs, leading to shortness of breath
  • Heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms
  • Kidney disease

Scleroderma Causes

Scleroderma is considered to be a multifactorial condition. Multifactorial inheritance means that "many factors" are involved in causing a health problem. The factors are usually both genetic and environmental, where a combination of genes from both parents, in addition to unknown environmental factors, produce the trait or condition. Often one gender (either males or females) is affected more frequently than the other in multifactorial traits.