Scleroderma, also known as systemic sclerosis, is an autoimmune disease that involves the formation of scar tissue within the skin and organs of the body. This causes a hardening and thickening of the affected areas and can cause damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys or other vital organs. Scleroderma is considered a rare condition, but may run in families and can be troubling to everyday life.
This condition occurs as a result of an overproduction of collagen within the tissue of the body. While there is no cure available for this condition, treatment can help manage symptoms and suppress the immune system, and may include blood pressure medication, physical therapy or surgery.
Raynaud's phenomenon (RP) is an autoimmune condition that results in a discoloration of the fingers and toes after exposure to hot or cold temperatures or in response to emotional stress. RP is more common in women than in men, and involves a constriction of blood vessels in the affected area that cause the skin to change color temporarily. This condition can also affect the nose, lips or earlobes in some patients.
RP may occur on its own or as a result of an underlying condition such as scleroderma, lupus or other autoimmune diseases. Treatment aims to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks, and may include keeping warm, managing stress, quitting smoking, biofeedback or medications. Treating an underlying condition often improves symptoms of RP.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues and organs, causing inflammation and damage to various parts of the body. This condition is most common in women between the ages of 15 and 45. While the specific cause is unknown, it is believed to be affected by environment, hormones or other immune system problems. Symptoms of lupus may include:
While lupus cannot be cured, it can usually be managed by avoiding the triggers that cause flares and treating individual symptoms.
Polymyositis is an autoimmune condition that involves an inflammation of the muscle fibers, resulting in weakness, fatigue, discomfort and weight loss. This condition most often occurs in the muscles closest to the trunk of the body, and is more common in women than in men. When polymyositis occurs with a skin rash in the affected area, it is known as dermatomyositis.
Treatment for these conditions often involves corticosteroids that are administered orally or intravenously. Other patients may benefit from medications that suppress the immune system in order to effectively manage symptoms. In most cases, these diseases become inactive and strength can gradually be restored to the affected muscle.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition in which the body's own immune system attacks the lining of the joints, causing swelling, inflammation and pain. This condition most commonly occurs in the hips and knees, and can lead to difficulty walking or moving, as well as a loss of muscle strength. Patients with this condition often experience pain even when the affected joint is not being moved.
Although there is no known cause or cure for RA, there are several treatment options available to control symptoms and slow the progression of the disease, including anti-inflammatory medication and a personalized exercise and diet plan. Early detection can help provide more effective treatment.
Gout is a type of arthritis characterized by too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product that is usually filtered out of the body, but can accumulate in certain joints and form painful crystalline deposits. Gout is most common in men or in post-menopausal women.
Patients with gout may experience swelling, redness, warmth and throbbing pain in the affected joint. These symptoms may come and go suddenly, which can be managed with anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and pain. Recurring symptom attacks can damage the joint over time, so patients may be prescribed a medication to reduce uric acid levels in the blood.
Psoriasis is a common, chronic skin condition that involves a rapid production of skin cells that build up on the surface of the skin and form scales, patches and other unwanted symptoms. This condition develops as a result of an autoimmune disorder in which skin cells replace themselves much more often than normal. Many people with psoriasis may also experience psoriatic arthritis, which causes joint pain, stiffness and swelling in addition to skin lesions.
There is no cure available for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, but certain treatment methods can help control symptoms and prevent joint damage. Psoriasis can often be managed through topical application of corticosteroids, vitamin D or retinoids, while arthritis can be treated through anti-inflammatory drugs or other medications.