Scleroderma, or systemic sclerosis, is a chronic degenerative disease affecting a patient's skin, joints and internal organs. As an autoimmune disease, scleroderma causes scar tissue, or fibrosis, to accumulate in the skin and internal organs causing a variety of symptoms that include thickening of the fingertips and feet, acid reflux, difficulty swallowing, joint pain and stiffness, and a wide variety of sores, spots or bumps on or under the skin.
Scleroderma treatment varies from patient to patient based on age, symptoms, patient tolerance and preference for various therapies, and the extent of the condition. Scleroderma treatment may involve medications, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, physical therapy and exercise. Vasculitis treatment and therapies for other diseases related to scleroderma may also be provided as needed.
The Center for Arthritis and Joint Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston provides world-class scleroderma treatment to patients diagnosed with scleroderma and other rheumatic diseases.
Comprehensive scleroderma treatment from a leading rheumatology provider
The Center for Arthritis and Joint Diseases at BWH had its origins nearly a century ago as the Robert Breck Brigham Hospital – the first teaching hospital in the U.S. focused solely on rheumatoid arthritis treatment and other similar diseases. In the years since, the Center pioneered research and developed innovative therapies to help BWH earn its reputation as one of the top providers of rheumatology services in the country.
For the most effective scleroderma treatment, physicians at the Center regularly collaborate with specialists in dermatology, pain management, bone and joint radiology, occupational and physical therapy, and other services.
Treatment at BWH for scleroderma may include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help reduce swelling and pain caused by the scleroderma.
Immunosuppressant drugs to help slow the progression of the disease.
Corticosteroids to relieve pain and minimize swelling caused by scleroderma.
Anti-hypertensives to control blood pressure and/or vasodilators to improve blood pressure.
Acid blockers for the stomach to help make swallowing easier and to minimize heartburn.
Exercise and physical therapy to help maintain flexibility and muscle strength.
In addition to scleroderma treatment, the Center also offers the following services for arthritis and joint diseases: