Acid production is a normal part of digestion in the stomach. Stomach acid abnormally traveling up into and irritating the esophagus is acid reflux. Heartburn refers to the painful burning sensation in the center of the chest caused by acid reflux.
An analgesic, also known as a painkiller, is a medication that reduces or eliminates pain. Examples of analgesics include aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
An antacid is an agent that neutralizes excess stomach acid. Antacids may come in liquid or tablet form and act immediately in the stomach. Long-acting antacid medications can be taken regularly and absorbed into the blood to suppress acid production.
An antibiotic is a type of antimicrobial substance used to treat infections. Each antibiotic kills or inhibits the growth of specific microorganisms. Thus, antibiotics are prescribed based on the type of infection present.
Arthralgia is pain in a joint.
Autoimmune diseases and antibodies attack the body’s own tissues.
Biofeedback is a technique for regulating a body function that is usually involuntarily controlled (ex. finger temperature or pulse rate). A person can practice relaxation techniques and learn to control the function by observing a machine that monitors the function. Later, the machine becomes unnecessary. However, the benefits of this technique have not been proved.
A biopsy is a medical test commonly performed by surgeons, interventional radiologists, or interventional cardiologists. A sample of tissue, cells, or fluids is removed and examined to determine the presence or extent of a disease.
To become blanched is to become white or pale. In Raynaud’s Phenomenon, the affected area blanches due to insufficient blood circulation.
Calcinosis is a condition in which abnormal calcium deposits occur in the skin
Connecting arteries and veins, capillaries are the smallest blood vessels of the body.
Scleroderma is characterized by an overproduction of collagen, which is a normal, fibrous protein found in the connective tissue of the body.
Connective tissue pervades, supports, and binds together other tissues, including mucous, fibrous, reticular, adipose, cartilage, skin, and bone. Connective tissue diseases are a group of disease that involve similar cellular changes; the specific disease is determined by the location at which the changes occur. Some examples are scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
An abnormal narrowing of vessels is constriction. An abnormal narrowing of the esophagus is stricture.
Contraction (of intestinal muscles)
Also known as peristalsis, contraction of the intestinal muscles is the rhythmic squeezing action of the muscles of the wall of the intestine. This rhythmic contraction moves food through the system.
The coronary arteries are the major blood vessels that supply blood to the heart.
CREST is an acronym for what is now known as limited cutaneous systemic scleroderma. The initials stand for Calcinosis, Raynaud’s Phenomenon, Esophageal dysfunction/dysmotility, Sclerodactyly, and Telangiectasia.
The word cutaneous means “of the skin.”
Cyanosis is a blue or purple color of the skin due to lack of blood oxygen. In Raynaud’s Phenomenon, cyanosis of the affected area may follow blanching.
Edema is swelling caused by an abnormal excess accumulation of fluid in body tissues or cavities.
En coup de sabre
En coup de sabre is a form of localized scleroderma, in which a long crease of waxy skin forms (typically) on the face or neck. The name comes from the resemblance to a cut by a saber (sword).
The esophagus connects the mouth to the stomach. The muscular tube, when properly functioning, contracts in smooth waves to move food to the stomach. A sphincter (ring-like muscle) at the lower esophagus opens to allow food to enter the stomach. Afterwards, the sphincter promptly closes to prevent stomach acid or partially digested food from entering the esophagus. Esophagitis is the inflammation or irritation of the esophagus.
The gastrointestinal tract is the digestive system. It breaks down food, allows absorption of nutrients, removal of cellular waste products, and elimination of solid waste from the body. Beginning with the mouth and esophagus, the gastrointestinal tract leads to the stomach, then the small intestine. The small intestine consists of the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. Lastly, the large intestine, also known as the colon, leads to the rectum. The term “bowel” refers to the intestine. The anal sphincter is a muscle that controls discharge of stool. Diarrhea refers to the abnormally frequent or excessive passing of stool, typically in a watery state. Constipation refers to the abnormally infrequent or delayed passage of stool, typically in a dry and hardened state. Normal bowel movements vary with diet and from person to person.
The immune system is the system of organs, cells, and proteins and produces immune responses, protecting the body from foreign substances. Organs include the thymus, spleen, lymph nodes, and bone marrow. Cells include white cells, lymphocytes, T cells, and B cells. Immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, are proteins that react with and/or neutralize corresponding proteins called antigens. Usually, the antigens are damaged or foreign material. The immune system protects and helps the body, but can be the cause of disease/allergy if it attacks parts of the normal body in a process known as autoimmunity.
Characterized by redness, heat, pain, swelling, and often loss of function, inflammation is the tissue reaction to cell injury. Normally, inflammation is part of the natural healing process because capillary dilation and white blood cell infiltration help eliminate foreign substances and damaged tissue. However, further damage can result from excessive or inappropriate inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs are used to counteract inflammation.
Joint contracture is the fixation of a joint in one position, preventing full range of motion. Scleroderma patients frequently experience joint contraction in the fingers, due to tightened and hardened skin around the joint. In flexion contractures, the fingers are fixed in a bent or flexed position.
Also spelled “lachrymal,” these glands are responsible for producing tears.
Laxatives are medications that stimulate the emptying of the bowels.
Lubrications are substances that make a surface slippery or oily. This can be done either artificially through the application of lubricating fluids or naturally through the secretion of fluids by cells. One example of such a secretion is tears.
The condition in which the patient has a reduced ability to take nutrients from food into the cells of the body from the digestive tract is called malabsorption.
Patients with microstomia have an abnormally small mouth opening.
Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
In mixed connective tissue disease, there is an overlap or or presence of the symptoms of two or more diseases at the same time.
Morphea is a form of localized scleroderma.
Gastrointestinal motility refers to the rhythmic waves of contractions of the digestive-tract muscles. This process propels the food forward, allowing absorption of nutrients and elimination of wastes (feces). Weakened or absent waves of contraction results in dysmotility (see Dysmotility).
Occupational therapy (OT), often designed to increase the ability to perform daily actions, involves using activity prescribed to promote recovery or rehabilitation. Such daily actions may include grooming and eating. The therapy often focuses on the hands and small muscle control.
Ophthalmic refers to being related to or situated near the eye.
Pericarditis is the condition in which there is tissue inflammation of the sac that encloses the heart.
A phenomenon is an unusual, significant, or inexplicable fact or occurrence that, when observed, is of scientific interest.
Physical Therapy (PT)
Physical therapy is the treatment of disease or injury with mechanical means such as massage, water, light, regulated exercises, or electricity. Typically, physical therapy is used for joint motion, large muscle groups, and activities such as walking and aerobic and isometric exercise.
Pleurisy is the condition of tissue inflammation of the sac that encloses the lungs.
The prognosis of a disease the prediction of its progression and end result, or the estimate of the patient’s chance of recovery.
Also called restrictive lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis is a process in which the lungs are scarred, thus decreasing oxygen transfer to the blood.
Patients with pulmonary hypertension have elevated blood pressure in the vessels of the lungs, leading to decreased blood oxygen and straining the right side of the heart.
Also known as Raynaud’s Syndrome, Raynaud’s Phenomenon is a disorder characterized by recurring spasms of the small blood vessels upon exposure to cold or emotional stress. In a Raynaud’s attack, the affected area (typically the fingers or toes) turn white, blue, and then red as circulation abnormally overreacts to normal conditions. This condition was named after Dr. Maurice Raynaud, the French physician who first described it.
Relaxation techniques include tensing and relaxing muscles, breathing techniques, imagery, and medication. These stress-reducing procedures can also be used to help regulate body functions such as finger temperature and pulse rate. One such example is Biofeedback (see Biofeedback).
Remission, Spontaneous Remission
Remission describes a period in which the symptoms of a disease go away or lessen. If remission seems to occur for no reason (ex. not due to treatment), it is called spontaneous remission.
Renal means of or related to the kidneys.
Respiratory means pertaining to breathing or the lungs.
The salivary glands secrete fluid (saliva) through a system of ducts.
Sclerodactyly is the localized thickening and tightening of the skin on the fingers and toes.
Sclerosis is the abnormal hardening of tissue.
Sjögren’s Syndrome, characterized by decreased secretions, is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes dry eyes and a dry mouth. This disease, named after the Swedish physician who first described it, may occur alone or as a part of other autoimmune diseases (including scleroderma).
A skin ulcer is a break in the skin where surface tissue is lost. Ulceration is also associated with infection, calcium deposits, and inflammation.
A spasm is an involuntary, abnormal muscle contraction.
Stasis refers to the slowing or stoping of body fluids (ex. venous stasis). Stasis may also refer to reduced intestine motility with retention of feces.
The opposite of localized, systemic means affecting the whole body, rather than only one of its parts.