Health Information

Talking to Your Doctor About Scleroderma

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The more you know about your health, the better prepared you are to make informed healthcare decisions. Our health library gives you the information you need to take charge of your health.

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with scleroderma. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Scleroderma
  • Is it possible to determine which type of scleroderma I have?
  • What kind of symptoms should I immediately call you about?
About Treatment Options
  • Are there any new treatments for scleroderma?
  • Are there any clinical trials from which I might benefit?
  • Do you recommend that I participate in a clinical trial?
  • How long will the medications you’ve prescribed take to work?
  • How much improvement should I expect?
  • What kinds of side effect should I expect?
  • When should I call you about a side effect?
  • Are there interactions between my medicines?
  • Are there any herbal supplements or complementary or alternative therapies that can help me?
About Lifestyle Changes
  • Are there any activities that I should change?
  • Can you recommend an appropriate exercise program?
  • Should I make any changes to my diet?
  • Can you recommend a program to help me stop smoking?
  • What can I do to continue my usual activities and protect my hands and feet?
  • What can I do to continue my usual activities and protect my skin?
  • Are there local support groups I can join?
About Your Outlook
  • Is it possible to predict the course my condition will follow?

Revision Information

  • Feldman M, et al. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 8th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2005.

  • Ferri F ed. Ferri’s Clinical Advisor 2011. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2010.

  • Firestein ED et al. Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2008.

  • Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Textbook of Internal Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2008.

  • Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2004.

  • Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 15th ed. McGraw Hill; 2001.

  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/.

  • Noble J. Textbook of Primary Care Medicine. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby; 2000.

  • Rakel R. Textbook of Family Medicine 2007. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2009.

  • Rakel RE, Bope ET. Conn's Current Therapy. 60th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2009.

  • Scleroderma Foundation website. Available at: http://www.scleroderma.org/.