Early Onset Symptoms

I was diagnosed very early with the Big S, so I do not have any hand deformities, facial changes or skin involvement at this time...which is reassuring...but also confusing, because many people are not diagnosed as early as I was. In fact, the Mayo Clinic MD told me I was the earliest case he had ever seen in his career. Evidently I am a pretty special girl!!

So being an early diagnosis, I have yet to meet people at my group or online who can tell me what the early onset symptoms actually are/were. People I speak with think they had already had the disease for many years before they were diagnosed, so they remember vague aches and pains but are not sure if they were related to the Big S or not.

The point of my ramble is... I did a lot of research online looking for early onset symptoms to validate if what I feel is the Big S and/or the beginning of the hand curling etc..

Well I finally found a pretty good site with information that I would like to post. I know for me... I like to feel the validation that what I am experiencing is usual for this disease.

I wanted to make this a page so that for those searching for Early Onset Symptoms this would be easy to find and reassuring for them. I am trying to use my pages as easy access for those who want information without wanting/needing to search for it.......so here it is:

Early Onset Symptoms of Scleroderma

Scleroderma is a type of autoimmune disease that affects the connective tissues within the human body. This rare condition affects approximately 200,000 people in the United States, according to the Scleroderma Foundation. The characteristic symptom of this condition--hardening of the skin--typically does not occur until the disease is more advanced. Early onset symptoms of scleroderma can vary considerably between patients, but should be discussed with a medical professional if they occur.


During the early phase of the disease, patients with scleroderma can develop an unusual swelling of the affected skin, reports the Scleroderma Foundation. Swelling most frequently affects the hands and may be worse upon waking in the morning. Puffy, enlarged hands can be difficult for an affected patient to move normally. Symptoms of swelling can also extend to other regions of the body, including the toes or feet.

Raynaud's Phenomenon

Approximately 90 percent of patients develop Raynaud's phenomenon as an early onset symptom of scleroderma, according to the Scleroderma Foundation. Raynaud's phenomenon is characterized by unusual blood vessel constriction resulting from exposure to stress or cold temperatures. This constriction of the blood vessels decreases the amount of blood that can flow through affected tissues. When this occurs, the affected body regions, such as the fingers or toes, can appear unusually pale or white. If the tissue doesn't receive enough oxygen, patients with scleroderma can develop blue-tinged skin that feels numb, tingly or cold. In the absence of emotional or environmental stress, the patient's skin regains normal blood flow and can appear red or flushed. Affected patients can experience sensations of warmth or burning as blood flow returns to the affected body region.
Joint Pain

During the early stage of this disease, patients can experience sensations of joint pain as an early onset symptom. Patients can develop swelling, stiffness or pain within the joints, which can make it difficult for patients to move the affected joint normally, explain medical experts at University of Washington Medicine. Joint pain can also be accompanied by fatigue or muscle weakness. These sensations can arise within any region of the body, such as the hands, hip or shoulder.

Stomach Upset

This disease can weaken the digestive tract. As a result, patients can develop stomach upset symptoms during the early stage of scleroderma. Affected patients can experience nausea, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or difficulty swallowing, University of Washington Medicine health experts report. These stomach upset symptoms can lead to a decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss in certain scleroderma patients
And yes, for the record - I have ALL OF THESE!!