What is pseudogout?

Pseudogout is one of many types of arthritis. It commonly affects the knee and wrist joints, causing crystals of calcium pyrophosphate to deposit in and around them. The condition is similar to gout, but gout causes monosodium urate crystals to develop in and around affected joints. Just like gout, these crystals cause pain, inflammation, and warmth. Unlike gout, pseudogout rarely affects the joint of your big toe. 

It is likely that calcium pyrophosphate crystals develop after you get a cartilage injury or after long-term cartilage wear and tear. Experts aren’t sure exactly what causes pseudogout, but they suspect cartilage damage causes crystals to enter the joint fluid and nearby soft tissue. 

These crystals cause an inflammatory response involving the sudden onset of severe pain and swelling. Without treatment, the condition resolves itself within 1-2 weeks. However, repeated episodes can cause long-term joint damage leading to secondary osteoarthritis. 

How is pseudogout diagnosed?

Symptoms of pseudogout, like pain, tenderness, redness, and warmth around joints, can come from several different conditions. The team might perform an X-ray to view your affected joint, but an X-ray alone isn’t enough to diagnose pseudogout. To find out if you have pseudogout or rule it out as the cause of your symptoms, the team at Rheumatology Solutions must test a fluid sample from the affected joint. 

To perform this test, the team uses a needle to obtain fluid from a swollen joint. When they withdraw the fluid, you might notice a brief period of pain relief as it relieves some of the pressure in the region. 

Once the team has the sample they need, they send it to the lab for testing. They look at the joint fluid through a microscope to determine if there are crystals present and whether or not they are calcium pyrophosphate crystals. 

Which treatments are available for pseudogout?

The team at Rheumatology Solutions can help ease some of your discomfort from pseudogout with one or more treatments and lifestyle adjustments. Treating your condition can ease your pain and prevent future complications from repeated instances of pseudogout. Your personalized treatment plan might include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Musculoskeletal corticosteroid injections
  • Oral corticosteroids
  • Colchicine

These medications help reduce inflammation, in turn, relieving some of the pain and discomfort associated with pseudogout. The team might also recommend resting the joint, using ice to relieve inflammation, and keeping the joint elevated to ease some of the swelling. 

To find out if pseudogout is causing your flare-ups of joint pain and tenderness, call Rheumatology Solutions or request an appointment online today.

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