Q & A Library
A Positive Approach to Scleroderma?
What are your recommendations for treatment or living with a new diagnosis of scleroderma?
Answer (Published 4/24/2002)
Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease, means "hard skin" since it causes the skin to thicken as a result of increased deposits of collagen. "Localized" scleroderma affects limited areas of the skin and musculoskeletal system while the "systemic" form of the disease is more widespread and can result in damage to the lungs, heart and kidneys, cause arthritis, slow gastrointestinal tract contraction, inflame muscles and cause dry eyes and dry mouth. Localized scleroderma can make the hands waxen and immobile; systemic scleroderma can be fatal.
As you know, there is no cure for scleroderma and no conventional medical treatment that can reliably manage the disease. However, I have seen dramatic improvements in some patients with autoimmune diseases who followed these recommendations:
My colleague, Steven Gurgevich, Ph.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, here at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, is very knowledgeable about scleroderma because his first wife, Jody, suffered from it. Steve says the first thing he tells patients with a new diagnosis is "don't panic" because the disease is so variable and because so many survival tools are available. He encourages patients to educate themselves about the disease as well as all the methods of treatment and available support resources. Here's a summary of his excellent advice:
Andrew Weil, M.D.
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