Scleroderma is a rare connective tissue disorder characterized by skin thickening and circulation programs typically in the face and distal extremities. The causes of this auto-immune disease remain unknown. Treatment often involves paraffin wax treatment, stretching, splints, massage, joint mobilization, and exercise. Few randomized controlled trials (the highest level of research evidence) have been performed on patients with scleroderma, thus leaving the efficacy of these interventions in question. Dr. Janet Poole of the University of New Mexico Occupational Therapy program recently published a review of the literature on musculoskeletal rehabilitation of scleroderma.
In general, most studies were limited by a lack of control and small sample sizes. 4 studies on paraffin bath found improved range of motion; however, they were often included with range of motion exercises. While the results are promising, more research including larger subject sizes and control groups are needed. However, it remains likely that paraffin treatments, including those using the Parabath® Paraffin Heat System can increase range of motion in patients with scleroderma.
REFERENCE: Poole JL. Musculoskeletal rehabilitation in the person with scleroderma. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2010 Mar;22(2):205-12.