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Scleroderma Awareness Month: A Challenging Disorder That Requires Expert Care

Scleroderma Awareness MonthScleroderma is a rare disease but unfortunately, affects nearly 100,000 Americans, and because its symptoms are quite painful, finding expert medical treatment is essential to ward off the progression of the disorder.  The collagen in the skin and tissues (eventually the organs) become hardened due to an overproduction of collagen.  Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease, so the body is actually attacking itself and causing excessive and abnormal cell turnover.

According to the American College of Rheumatology, Scleroderma facts and statistics are detailed in the following manner:

Scleroderma Facts
• Scleroderma differs from person to person but can be very serious.

• There are medications, as well as steps individuals can take, to ease the symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon, skin problems, and heartburn.

• Effective treatments are available for those with severe disease, including acute kidney disease, pulmonary hypertension, lung inflammation and gastrointestinal problems.

• It is important to recognize and treat organ involvement early on to prevent irreversible damage.

• Patients should see physicians with specialized expertise in the care of this complex disease.

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease affecting the skin and other organs of the body, meaning that the body’s immune system is causing inflammation and other abnormalities in these tissues. The main finding in scleroderma is thickening and tightening of the skin and inflammation and scarring of many body parts, leading to problems in the lungs, kidneys, heart, intestinal system and other areas. There is still no cure for scleroderma, but effective treatments for some forms of the disease are available.

Scleroderma is relatively rare. About 75,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. have this disease; most are women between the ages of 30 and 50. Twins and family members of those with scleroderma or other autoimmune connective tissue diseases, such as lupus, may have a slightly higher risk of getting scleroderma. Children can also develop scleroderma, but the disease is different in children than in adults.

Although the underlying cause is unknown, promising research is shedding light on the relationship between the immune system and scleroderma. A great deal of research is also underway to find better treatments for scleroderma and, hopefully, someday a cure.

The effects of Scleroderma are both physical and emotional, as individuals are usually in a great deal of pain.  This discomfort includes joint stiffness, intestinal issues, kidney disorders, lung complications and trying to cope with the physical changes that may have taken place on the face and body.

Exercise can offer some relief, as can keeping the body warm.  Avoiding cold rooms and outdoor environments are recommended.  If you have scleroderma, it’s essential to see a rheumatologist and a team of medical practitioners that can work together to get you relief and to slow the progression of the disease.

Your rheumatologist will prescribe various medications depending on your disease state.  Drugs like circulatory medications, calcium channel blockers, acid reflux drugs, ace inhibitors, arthritis medications, and IV infusion therapy with immunosuppressant treatments, work synergistically to treat your symptoms and also to help the immune system to slow down, which will provide pain relief as well as longevity between progressive phases.

Florida Medical Clinic, A Leader in Comprehensive Health Care

At Florida Medical Clinic, your health and wellbeing is their specialty. Their team of compassionate, experienced physicians offers a comprehensive range of healthcare services, including expert Rheumatologists.

By specializing in everything from family practice and internal medicine services to cardiology, gastroenterology, sports medicine, plastic surgery, and beyond, all within a single, clinically integrated network, their team streamlines every aspect of your healthcare. There’s only one name you’ll need to remember for all of your medical needs: Florida Medical Clinic.

Their team of physicians treats patients of all ages, from infants to seniors. In addition to emphasizing preventive care to help their patients stay healthy, their primary care services include physical exams, urgent care appointments for non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses, cancer screenings, minor surgical procedures, routine gynecology and dermatology services, and ongoing management of chronic conditions such as scleroderma, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Florida Medical Clinic’s Rheumatology Experts:

Alicia Fierro, D.O.
Board-Certified Rheumatologist Special Interests
• Lupus
• Osteoporosis
• Pregnancy and rheumatic disease
• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Scleroderma

Board Certifications
• American Board of Internal Medicine
• American Board of Rheumatology

David Rivera, M.D.
Board-Certified Rheumatologist (el habla español) Special Interests
• Scleroderma
• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Psoriatic Arthritis

Board Certifications
• American Board of Internal Medicine
• Internal Medicine
• American Board of Rheumatology

Florida Medical Clinic offers, expedient appointment scheduling, short wait times, a caring and responsive staff, and for your convenience, labs and imaging are available in the office.

To schedule your appointment today, please call 813-780-8440.

www.FloridaMedicalClinic.com

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