What Is Scleroderma?

Scleroderma causes abnormal growth of the connective tissue that affects the joints, skin and internal organs. Scleroderma is also associated with blood vessel abnormalities.

Scleroderma is thought to be an autoimmune disease, a condition in which the body's immune system turns on itself. Although genes play a role in the disease, it is not passed on from parents to children. In addition, unknown environmental factors likely play a role.

Scleroderma can be either a localized disease or a disease that affects the whole body. When it affects the whole body, it is also called systemic sclerosis or systemic scleroderma.

The Division of Rheumatology

The Division of Rheumatology at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital deals primarily with the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and autoimmune diseases. Our mission is the prevention, cure and relief of suffering from arthritis and rheumatic diseases, providing patient-centered, integrated care guided by research-based evidence.

The Scleroderma Program

A nationally recognized leader in scleroderma treatment and at the forefront of translational research, the Northwestern Medicine Scleroderma Program has treated more than 700 patients since its establishment in 2004.

The Northwestern Medicine Scleroderma Program serves as a strong advocate for its patients. In addition to providing focused subspecialty expertise, the program also embraces a holistic approach through the establishment of its integrated scleroderma team, which includes specialists in:

  • Pulmonology
  • Cardiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Dermatology
  • The team meets regularly to:
  • Review patient care strategies
  • Develop new treatment and diagnostic protocols
  • Establish novel research collaborations
  • Assure optimal integration of care
  • Incorporate aspects of integrative medicine

Northwestern Medicine Regional Group Rheumatology

At Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group, a multidisciplinary team of highly trained specialists addresses a range of diseases that affect the body’s connective tissue. Arthritic, rheumatic and autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, are common conditions treated by rheumatologists. Our physicians are also available to consult on other musculoskeletal disorders including shoulder, hip and knee pain and will work closely with your integrated care team to provide a comprehensive plan for treatment.