Which musculoskeletal findings are characteristic of scleroderma?

Updated: Sep 09, 2019
  • Author: Sergio A Jimenez, MD, MACR, FACP, FRCP(UK Hon); Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Patients may present with generalized arthralgia and morning stiffness that may mimic other systemic autoimmune diseases. However, clinically apparent synovitis is uncommon.

Hand and joint function usually decline over time because of skin tightening rather than arthropathy. Flexion contractures of affected joints is common.

Tendon friction rubs are found almost exclusively in diffuse systemic sclerosis and may be detected as the tendon is moved actively or passively. The following are common sites where palpable tendon friction rubs may be found:

  • Shoulders - Scapula

  • Elbows - Olecranon

  • Knees - Patella

  • Wrists - Flexor or extensor

  • Fingers - Flexor or extensor (rare)

  • Ankles - Anterior tibia, posterior tibia, peroneal, Achilles tendon

Myositis may cause weakness and muscle wasting. Acroosteolysis (ie, resorption or lysis of the distal end of the phalanx) may occur.

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