Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center

Rheumatologist & Regenerative Medicine Physician located in Tustin, CA & Laguna Hills, CA

Scleroderma is a rare autoimmune disease that causes hardening and tightening of your skin. Although there’s no cure for this disease, rheumatologist Behnam Khaleghi, MD, offers biologic treatments for symptom relief at Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center in Orange and Laguna Hills, California. To learn how you can manage the symptoms of scleroderma, schedule an appointment online or by phone today.

Scleroderma Q & A

What is scleroderma?

Also called systemic sclerosis, scleroderma is a chronic condition that affects your skin and connective tissues. Your connective tissues provide structural support for your entire body, so scleroderma can affect almost every system in your body, including your blood vessels and digestive tract.

Who gets scleroderma?

Scleroderma is relatively rare, affecting an estimated 300,000 people in the United States. Women are about four times more likely to get scleroderma than men. People of all ages can develop scleroderma, but the disease is most commonly diagnosed in adults ages 30-50.

What are the symptoms of scleroderma?

Scleroderma symptoms vary from person to person and can range in severity from mild to life-threatening. The type of symptoms you experience depends on the location of your scleroderma. Common symptoms of scleroderma include:

  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hardening and tightening of patches of skin
  • Raynaud’s disease, or numbness, pain, and discoloration in your fingers or toes
  • Digestive problems such as acid reflux and bloating
  • Insufficient nutrient absorption that leads to weight loss

Scleroderma can also cause damage to vital organs, such as your heart, lungs, and kidneys. If left untreated, these problems can be life-threatening.

How is scleroderma diagnosed and treated?

Scleroderma can be difficult to diagnose because the disease can affect so many different parts of your body. As a highly trained rheumatologist, Dr. Khaleghi has the expertise to make an accurate scleroderma diagnosis.

First, he asks about your symptoms and medical history. He also performs a physical exam to check for signs and symptoms that may indicate scleroderma, such as thickened or swollen skin. He may also take tests, including:

  • Blood tests to check for antibodies
  • X-rays or CT scans to check for bone abnormalities
  • Biopsy of affected skin
  • Breathing tests to check lung function

Then, Dr. Khaleghi develops a treatment plan focused on relieving your specific scleroderma symptoms. He offers the most current therapies available, including biologic medications such as rituximab. This intravenous drug treats scleroderma by suppressing your immune system.

To find relief from scleroderma symptoms, call Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center or book an appointment online today.