Treatment of Scleroderma
If you have scleroderma, your healthcare team will recommend treatment based on the specific symptoms you have, as well as on their severity. Because the disease can affect different organs and body structures, treatments range from regular dental exams to lung-function tests to medications. There is no cure, so treatment is designed to alleviate symptoms and minimize associated damage.
Currently, there are no treatments that control or stop the underlying problem of scleroderma -- the overproduction of collagen. Thus, treatment of scleroderma and management focus on relieving symptoms and limiting damage. Your treatment will depend on the particular problems you are having and will be prescribed by your doctor. Other treatments include things you can do on your own.
Who Is Involved in Treating Scleroderma?
Scleroderma can affect many different organs and organ systems. Therefore, you may have several different doctors involved in your care. Your care will typically be managed by a rheumatologist, who is a specialist in treating people with diseases of the joints, bones, muscles, and immune system.
Your rheumatologist may refer you to other specialists, depending on the specific problems you are having. These specialists include:
- A dermatologist for the treatment of skin symptoms
- A nephrologist for kidney complications
- A cardiologist for heart complications
- A gastroenterologist for problems of the digestive tract
- A pulmonary specialist for lung involvement.
In addition to doctors, professionals like nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical or occupational therapists, psychologists, and social workers may play a role in your scleroderma care. Dentists, orthodontists, and even speech therapists can treat oral complications that arise from thickening of tissues in and around the mouth and on the face.