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Systemic Sclerosis Specialist

Arthritis Associates -  - Rheumatology

Arthritis Associates

Rheumatology & Arthritis located in San Antonio, TX

Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) causes your connective tissues to become abnormally thickened and scarred. If you find it difficult to cope with systemic sclerosis, the rheumatology experts at Arthritis Associates in San Antonio, Texas, can help. They have extensive experience in diagnosing this condition and offer a variety of advanced therapies to alleviate your symptoms. For relief from systemic sclerosis, call Arthritis Associates to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online today.

Systemic Sclerosis Q&A

What is systemic sclerosis?

Systemic sclerosis or scleroderma is an autoimmune disorder affecting your connective tissues. With this condition, your body produces excessive quantities of collagen (a protein that gives skin its elasticity), leading to thickened, scarred areas of tissue.

Localized sclerosis is a form of the disease that only affects the skin. Systemic sclerosis causes problems with internal organs like your lungs, kidneys, and heart, as well as your skin.

What symptoms does systemic sclerosis cause?

Systemic sclerosis causes a wide range of symptoms depending on which part of your body is involved. Some of the areas affected by systemic sclerosis include:


Most patients with systemic sclerosis develop hard, thickened patches of skin in various shapes that may extend over a large part of your body. These patches can become so tight they restrict movement.

Fingers and toes

Raynaud's phenomenon is likely to be one of the first signs of systemic sclerosis. It makes your fingers or toes feel painful or numb and turns them white or blue in response to triggers such as stress and cold temperatures.

Gastrointestinal tract

Systemic sclerosis in the digestive tract can cause difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), heartburn (acid reflux), bloating, stomach cramps, constipation, and diarrhea.

Heart, lungs, and kidneys

Systemic sclerosis in the heart can lead to arrhythmia (an abnormal heart rhythm). In your lungs, it can cause you difficulty breathing; in your kidneys, it could lead to sudden, dangerously high blood pressure (scleroderma renal crisis). These complications are potentially life-threatening if you don't get treatment.

It's also common for patients with systemic sclerosis to have inflamed, painful, stiff joints or arthritis.

There's no definitive test for systemic sclerosis, however, your provider can rule out other potential causes of your symptoms using their on-site lab. A physical examination and symptom review enable the experienced rheumatologists at Arthritis Associates to diagnose your condition.

What treatments can help with systemic sclerosis?

An early diagnosis of systemic sclerosis and aggressive treatment under the care of the Arthritis Associates team is vital to prevent your condition from worsening and leading to life-changing complications.

Currently, there's no cure for systemic sclerosis, so the team at Arthritis Associates focuses on managing your symptoms and preventing complications. 

Your provider might prescribe medications to slow down collagen growth or immunosuppressants to decrease your immune system response. Steroids can reduce acute inflammation.

Some of these treatments are available in the IV infusion suite at Arthritis Associates. IV infusions deliver your medication directly into your bloodstream for optimal effectiveness and reduced risk of side effects. 

If you have joint pain, steroid injections and viscosupplementation (hyaluronic acid injections) can also help.

For expert diagnosis and treatment of systemic sclerosis, call Arthritis Associates to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online today.