CREST Syndrome

CREST syndrome is a slow form of scleroderma, an autoimmune disease causing abnormalities in the blood vessels, degenerative changes, and the scarring of internal organs and joints. Women are four times more likely to develop CREST syndrome. Though this disease is slow moving and the prognosis for CREST syndrome is better than that of Scleroderma, it is still very damaging over time—causing the skin to darken and tighten. This can result in an over-all stiffness or difficulty forming facial expressions. It can cause problems with swallowing or digestion owing to the scar tissue that can form in the esophagus.

Symptoms of CREST Syndrome

Some symptoms of CREST syndrome are aches and pains in joints, heartburn, trouble swallowing that can lead to weight loss, and shortness of breath sometimes develops after scar tissue has built up in the esophagus. Other symptoms may include the swelling and thickening of the fingers or tingling and paling of fingers. There is sometimes scarring present around the joints that can cause fingers, wrists, and other joints to stay in a flexed position. Sometimes sufferers experience a grating sound made by joints that are inflamed. Typically, as fingers warm they become bluish in color. CREST syndrome can cause heart anomalies such as abnormal rhythms and heart failure.

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