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  • Writer's pictureJessica Frizzell, PA-C

Treatment Options for Scleroderma/Systemic Sclerosis

Updated: Feb 7

While there is currently no cure for scleroderma, or systemic sclerosis, significant advancements in research and medical understanding have led to a variety of treatment options aimed at managing symptoms, slowing disease progression, and improving the overall quality of life for individuals affected. In this article, we explore the available treatments for scleroderma/systemic sclerosis.

Treatment Options Available for scleroderma/systemic sclerosis:

  • Medications:

  • Immunosuppressants: Medications such as methotrexate and mycophenolate mofetil may be prescribed to suppress the overactive immune response and reduce inflammation.

  • Corticosteroids: These anti-inflammatory drugs may be used in certain situations, but their long-term use is often limited due to potential side effects.

  • Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs):

  • Hydroxychloroquine: This DMARD is commonly used to manage skin symptoms and joint pain associated with scleroderma.

  • Biological Therapies:

  • Biologics: In some cases, biologic therapies may be considered to target specific components of the immune system and modulate its response.

  • Vasodilators:

  • Calcium Channel Blockers: Medications like nifedipine may help manage Raynaud's phenomenon, a common symptom of scleroderma.

  • Physical and Occupational Therapy:

  • Joint Mobility: Therapists can assist in maintaining joint mobility and preventing contractures.

  • Breathing Exercises: Pulmonary rehabilitation can help manage lung involvement and improve respiratory function.

  • Topical Treatments:

  • Skin Creams: Emollients and topical steroids can be used to manage skin tightness and discomfort.

  • Digital Ulcer Management:

  • Antibiotics: In cases of digital ulcers, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent or manage infection.

  • Pulmonary Hypertension Treatment:

  • Pulmonary Hypertension Medications: In individuals with scleroderma-related pulmonary hypertension, specific medications may be prescribed to manage blood pressure in the lungs.

Is There a Cure?

As of now, there is no cure for scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, but ongoing research aims to deepen our understanding of the disease and identify potential curative approaches. The complex nature of scleroderma, involving both immune system dysfunction and widespread tissue involvement, makes finding a definitive cure a challenging task.

While there is currently no cure for scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, research offers hope for improved treatments and, ultimately, a comprehensive understanding of the disease. Current therapeutic approaches focus on managing symptoms, slowing disease progression, and enhancing the overall well-being of individuals living with scleroderma. 

If you are living with scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, we encourage you to work closely with your healthcare team and rheumatologist to determine the best treatment plan for you. 

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