Abnormal Growth of Connective Tissues

Image of woman with chest painScleroderma is a chronic disease that causes abnormal growth of connective tissue. It can affect the joints, skin, and internal organs. It can get worse over time. Scleroderma can lead to scarring, or fibrosis, of the skin, joints, and internal organs. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each person, and may include:

  • Calcium bumps on the fingers or other bony areas
  • Grating noise as inflamed tissues move
  • Heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms
  • Immovable fingers, wrists, or elbows due to severe skin tightening 
  • Joint pain
  • Kidney disease
  • Pale and tingly fingers that may turn numb when exposed to cold or during emotional upset called Raynaud’s phenomenon
  • Inflammation of the esophagus, leading to heartburn and trouble swallowing
  • Inflammation of the lungs, leading to shortness of breath
  • Ulcers on fingertips and knuckles

Systemic scleroderma is a long-term condition. It is important that you learn ways to best manage your symptoms. The treatment of scleroderma involves a team of physicians, from many different specialties, working together to prevent organ damage.