Pseudogout

What is pseudogout?

Pseudogout is a condition of painful, swollen joints caused by deposits of calcium crystals (distinct from gout, which is caused by urate crystals). There are two types of calcium crystal that cause problems: calcium pyrophosphate builds up in the joint cartilage; apatite crystals build up in the tendons. Sometimes you may have a mix of both crystal types.

In many cases, the crystals remain deep in the tissues and don’t cause any problems. However, if they surface in the joint cavity or soft tissues around a tendon, they can cause inflammation and pain.

Symptoms may include pain and stiffness in the affected joint, swelling, tenderness and redness, raised temperature and feeling generally unwell. If a tendon is involved, you may also experience bulging tendons due to the presence of the crystals, as well as the joint symptoms.

This condition usually affects people in their late middle-age or elderly years. Tendon involvement tends to occur in younger people. Men and women are equally affected.

How is pseudogout treated?

Acute attacks of this condition usually settle on their own. However, they can be very painful and often require anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) to relieve the symptoms, such as ibuprofen, naproxen or diclofenac. Like gout, colchicine can sometimes be used to treat an acute attack.

Another option that may be considered is a small procedure called joint aspiration and injection, where some of the fluid is removed from the affected joint, thus reducing the pressure within the joing. At the same time, a steroid preparation is injected into the affected joint, reducing the inflammation resulting in symptom relief.

Where can I find out more about pseudogout?

arukArthritis Research UK

Last updated: October 3, 2017