What are the Medical Treatments?
There is still no cure for scleroderma. However, there are medical treatments for most of the complications associated with scleroderma This is why screening for scleroderma is important even if patients have not yet developed symptoms of their disease.
Treatment should be administered under the close supervision of a rheumatologist or another physician with expertise in scleroderma.
The list of medications that can be prescribed is extensive depending on the systems affected, the symptoms experienced and the organs at risk. These combinations are usually targeted at preventing further disease progression by treating symptoms and attempting to regulate the immune system.
Immuno-suppressants are the primary line of action used to stabilize the autoimmune nature of the disease. There is a variety of these and different ways they can be administered. If one can be found that does not cause dangerous side effects and also shows signs of improvement, it can slow down the rate of progression, prevent further progression, and in some cases, reverse some of the early tissue thickening and inflammation.
If immuno-suppressants fail to treat the progression of scleroderma, biologics may be the next option to consider. The term “biologics” describes a category of medications derived from living cells that target specific parts of a person’s cellular make-up; in this case, the immune system. These are only considered after other treatments have not produced desired results and if the person is experiencing severe symptoms.
Emerging research on stem cell transplants suggests that this option may provide a successful treatment option for people who have had early rapid disease progression with little to no response to the aforementioned options. This treatment requires early diagnosis, detailed pre-screening, diligence and commitment through the process, and a referral to one of few facilities with a qualified medical team to perform the treatment.
The success of treatments and the availability of their preventative potential are dependent on early diagnosis and regular monitoring. Work with your doctors to find the best options for you.