The word “scleroderma means “hardening of the skin”. Scleroderma refers to a group of diseases that cause abnormal growth of your connective tissue. These are the proteins that support your organs and skin. They are the fibers that provide the support and framework for your body. It is a rare, progressive disease that leads to hardening and tightening of your connective tissues and skin.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease of your connective tissue. Autoimmune diseases are illnesses in which your body’s tissues are attacked by your own immune system.
Scleroderma is generally classified as one of the autoimmune rheumatic diseases. These are diseases that are characterized by pain in your joints or muscles.
Scleroderma is divided into two main types, localized and systemic. Localized scleroderma affects only your skin. Systemic scleroderma affects your blood vessels and internal organs, as well as your skin.
Diffuse scleroderma is one of the two main kinds of systemic scleroderma. The other is limited scleroderma, which is also called CREST syndrome.
Diffuse scleroderma is the most aggressive and serious type of scleroderma. It usually involves a rapid development of thickening of your skin that starts with your face and hands and progresses to your trunk and arms. Diffuse scleroderma also may involve your internal organs at an early point in the course of the disease.
There are several signs and symptoms that you may experience with diffuse scleroderma. Some of these are:
- Raynaud’s phenomenon – This is your toes and fingers losing circulation and turning white with exposure to cold.
- Red swollen hands
- Painful joints
- Fatigue and/or unintentional weight loss
- Morning stiffness
- Thickening of your skin that starts as “puffiness” or swelling of your hands and fingers
- Shiny, hard and leathery skin that can be widespread and found on both sides of your body
- Early internal organ involvement
- Major depression.
You or a loved one may have diffuse scleroderma. This disease and/or complications resulting from it may be the reason why you or your loved one is not able to work. It may be the cause of your disability.
If this is true, you may need assistance. You may need financial help.
You or your loved one may be intending to apply for the financial assistance that you need from the Social Security Administration by applying for Social Security disability benefits or disability benefits because of the disability caused by diffuse scleroderma and/or complications resulting from this disease. Or, you or your loved one may have already tried this option and been denied by the Social Security Administration.
If you or your loved one is planning on appealing the denial by the Social Security Administration, here is something important that you should know. People who have a disability attorney working for them like the one you will find at Social Security Home are approved more often than people who are not represented by a disability lawyer.