1. Basic Protection
It is advisable for every patient to ensure personal safety by wearing gloves and protective gear when performing any form of physical activity, including doing the dishes. Heat packs can be used to provide relief from pain and discomfort, but ensure that they are just warm and not too hot.
Stretching is very beneficial to those suffering from scleroderma. Tightening of the skin and joints in the hands can reduce grip strength due to lack of use of hand muscles. Constant, gentle stretching of these structures helps maintain muscle tone and strength. When performed slowly and gently, as advised by the physical therapist, stretching can keep skin texture and tone normal, while keeping joint movements adequate.
3. Exercise Therapy
This does not refer to cardiovascular activity, but more so to the range of movement of the joints. It is recommended that patients perform these exercises after a warm shower or an application of heat, as the joints are a lot more supple when warmed. Physical therapists will advise patients what works best.
4. Weight Training
People suffering from scleroderma report muscle weakness and fatigue. In addition, muscle fibers can shorten and become stiff. Low intensity weight training has been shown to increase stamina, improve muscle length, and improve muscle strength in many cases.
5. Cardiovascular Activity
Physical therapists often recommend low-grade cardiovascular activities such as brisk walking or other low impact activities like yoga and Pilates. Over time, cardiovascular activity can help reduce fatigue when performed as prescribed by your therapist. This also improves blood flow to the skin and joints.