Sclerodactyly Treatments

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Overview of Treatments
Physical and Occupational Therapy
UVA-1 Phototherapy

Overview of Treatments for Sclerodactyly

Sclero = hardening + dactyly = fingers or toes.
Sclerodactyly = Hardening of fingers or toes.

Sclerodactyly, Hands by Sherrill Knaggs, ISN Photo RepositorySystemic sclerosis, such as limited or diffuse scleroderma, sometimes causes sclerodactyly. (Also see What is Sclerodactyly?, Overview of Skin Involvement, What is Scleroderma? and Types of Scleroderma)

Sclerodactyly begins with swollen fingers and/or toes, which are often so swollen that it becomes difficult to bend them. This phase is then sometimes followed by skin thickening, and then skin hardening. It can eventually lead to hands that are stiffened into a claw, and immovable.

It is very important to have treatment and physical therapy starting in the initial stages, before the hands have hardened. Preventing and treating attacks of Raynaud's promptly might lessen the progression of the disease.

Ultraviolet A1 (UVA1)

Mixed results have been reported for the use of UVA1 phototherapy for sclerodactyly.

For UVA1 treatment, first contact your scleroderma expert to see if it they will recommend it for you. If they recommend and prescribe it for you, try to find UVA1 facilities near you. Some dermatology offices (usually large offices or with major health centers) have UVA1 equipment (not UVB). It may also be possible to buy UVA1 phototherapy equipment for home use. It is manufactured by Daavlin and distributed worldwide. Home users must be monitored by a physician, who will prescribe the necessary dosage and monitor for possible side-effects, such as skin cancer.

Physical and Occupational Therapy

Physical therapists can use stretching exercises, warming techniques such as hot wax machines, and form casts to wear (especially at night) so that if the hands do harden, they are molded into the most usable shape for daily activities.

Physical and occupational therapists can also help the patient adjust by identifying adaptive devices and lifestyle changes to help counter some of the effects of this disability. Common hand exercises for arthritis may help some patients. (Remember that scleroderma is a type of arthritis.)

For information about physical therapy, along with books, tapes and other resources to deal with sclerodactyly, see Skeletal Involvement: Joints and Muscles by ISN.

Slide show: Hand exercises for people with arthritis. Arthritis. MayoClinic.

Hand Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis. 7 hand-stretching exercises to ease rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Denise Mann. WebMD.

Sclerodactyly Treatments: Surgery

Surgery of the hand in patients with systemic sclerosis: outcomes and considerations. The goals of surgery for advanced SSc affecting the hand are limited and include pain relief through sympathectomy and increased perfusion, repositioning the digit, providing a functional position of fusion, and modest mobilization through resection arthroplasty. J Rheumatol. (Also see Skeletal Involvement, Raynaud's Treatments, and Calcinosis)

Go to Sclerodactyly Personal Stories
Most Recent Donors

Winn Schillberg
Reading Voices of Scleroderma Books: Diana Kramer.
Sharing Scleroderma Awareness Bracelets: Deb Martin, Brenda Miller, Vickie Risner.
Thanks to UNITED WAY donors of Central New Mexico and Snohomish County!

In Loving Memory

Patricia Ann Black: Marilyn Currier, Shelley Ensz, Richard Howitt, Gerald and Pat Ivanejko, Juno Beach Condo Association, Keith and Rosalyn Miller, and Elaine Wible.
Gayle Hedlin: Daniel and Joann Pepper and Nancy Smithberg.
Janet Paulmenn: Anonymous, Mary Jo Austin, Shelley Blaser, Susan Book, Dennis and Pat Clayton, Grace Cunha, Cindy Dorio, Michael and Patricia Donahue, Shelley Ensz, Nancy Falkenhagen, Jo Frowde, Alice Gigl, Margaret Hollywood, Karen Khalaf and Family, Susan Kvarantan, Bradley Lawrence, Jillyan Little, Donna Madge, Michele Maxson, Barry and Judith McCabe, John Moffett, My Tribute Foundation, Joan-Marie Permison, John Roberts, Margaret Roof, Maryellen Ryan, Mayalin and Kiralee Murphy, Nancy Settle-Murphy, and Bruce and Elizabeth Winter.


SCLERO.ORG is the world leader for trustworthy research, support, education and awareness for scleroderma and related illnesses, such as pulmonary hypertension. We are a service of the nonprofit International Scleroderma Network (ISN), which is a 501(c)(3) U.S.-based public charitable foundation, established in 2002. Meet Our Team, or Volunteer. Donations may also be mailed to:

International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
7455 France Ave So #266
Edina, MN 55435-4702 USA

Email [email protected] to request our Welcome email, or to report bad links or to update this page content.

TOLL FREE HOTLINE 800-564-7099
Free to U.S. and Canadian Callers. Ask for our Free Info Packet by mail or email!
Scleroderma, Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, and related illnesses.
Privacy Policy.

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is!
Donate Now
Copyright 1998-2016, International Scleroderma Network. AKA Scleroderma from A to Z and SCLERO.ORG. All Rights Reserved.