Influence of rheumatic scleroderma on skin, muscles and organs

The body consists of a skeleton, muscles, organs, blood but also connective tissue. It is the basic material that exists between the various body parts to function optimally. It is also an important communication route for blood vessels, nerves, and so on. If a disease occurs in this tissue, it can have major consequences for human health. How does rheumatic scleroderma affect the different parts of the body?

Rheumatic scleroderma

  • What is connective tissue?
  • What does the condition mean?
  • Degree of occurrence rheumatic scleroderma
  • Local disorder
  • Completely affected


What is connective tissue?

This is the material in the body that protects organs and keeps the original shape intact. It is shaped in such a way that the organ can function optimally and move freely. In addition, the tissue provides the connection with the rest of the body. It is, as it were, the highway along which nerves and blood vessels travel. The material can also occur internally in organs. Connective tissue is therefore a basic principle of our existence and the proper functioning of the body. But what happens when rheumatic scleroderma occurs in the connective tissue?

What does the condition mean?

Because connective tissue occurs everywhere in the body, complaints can also cause serious problems. The disease means that the connective tissue hardens, becomes stiffer and thickens. In other words, the mobility of the human body decreases, causing tissues and organs to function less effectively. This involves a progressive deterioration, with more and more connective tissue being affected. Initially, the person can still live well with the condition, but mobility gradually decreases. Depending on the type of scleroderma, the consequences can be limited to very serious.

Degree of occurrence rheumatic scleroderma

The condition occurs roughly in 1 in 5,000 people, or approximately 3,000 Dutch people suffer from stiffening connective tissue. It can occur in different degrees. It normally occurs after the age of 30, mainly occurring in women (3/4 of the number of patients). It can only occur superficially, affecting the skin, but can also seriously affect the functioning of certain organs.

Local disorder

These are often skin-related thickenings. It means that the person is otherwise healthy internally and can therefore continue to function normally. On the one hand, the condition can occur very locally, but can also be spread throughout the body. On the other hand, it can occur in a long strip over the body. From a limb or head it appears as stiffer-feeling skin up to the torso.

Completely affected

In the case of rheumatic systematic scleroderma, the entire body can be affected. It affects the skin but also internally the muscles and organs. Specifically, the following distinction is indicated:

  • Intestines: food is passed on and absorbed less well, causing the person to lose weight more quickly. The peristaltic movement works less well, which means that blockages can occur more often;
  • esophagus: food is swallowed poorly, after which it has difficulty entering the stomach;
  • kidneys: waste products are removed from the body less effectively, causing acids and toxins to build up;
  • heart: palpitations and disorders;
  • lungs: the lung tissue reacts stiffly, significantly reducing inhalation and exhalation. The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide also decreases with time.

The mere damage to an organ can have far-reaching consequences. This is a continuously deteriorating condition, causing the situation for the patient to increasingly deteriorate. It results in disability until organs can be replaced. If no suitable donor is found, the condition can unexpectedly lead to death.

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