Musculoskeletal hand involvement in systemic sclerosis

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2020 Apr;50(2):329-334. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2019.11.003. Epub 2019 Nov 9.


Musculoskeletal (MSK) involvement of the hands is a significant source of morbidity, impacting on quality of life in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc). MSK complications are common in SSc and can affect the whole of the MSK system. MSK hand involvement can occur early in the course of the disease. A wide range of articular involvement is recognised including from arthralgia to inflammatory joint and tendon disease. Mechanistic insights have been made into enthesitis, hand contractures and tendon friction rubs and could inform the development inform novel treatment approaches to MSK involvement in SSc. Bony involvement can include osteomyelitis from digital ulceration. Other important manifestations include (but are not limited to) calcinosis, acro-osteolysis and carpal tunnel syndrome. MSK imaging is an important tool that allows insight into both disease pathogenesis and to inform the clinical management of MSK complications. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the MSK hand complications in patients with SSc, highlighting the breadth and burden of pathology relevant to clinical practice.

Keywords: Hand; Musculoskeletal; Scleroderma; Systemic sclerosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthralgia / etiology
  • Calcinosis / etiology
  • Hand / blood supply
  • Hand / innervation
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / complications*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Tendinopathy / etiology