Notice from Columbus Arthritis Center: At this time, only patients scheduled for biologic infusions should come in for their treatment unless they have signs or symptoms of infection or known exposure to anyone with the Coronavirus. Otherwise, any non-urgent/stable patients should not come into the office. We will call these patients on the day of their visit to provide recommendations. We are recommending that most patients continue treatment as long as they are doing well and do not show signs of infection. Please call us if you have any questions 614-486-5200.

Pseudogout

What Is Pseudogout?

Pseudogout refers to gout-like attacks, characterized by acute localized pain and swelling, that occur in patients with calcium crystal deposits in the joints. Chondrocalcinosis is the term used to describe the calcium-containing deposits that are found in cartilage and which are usually visible on joint x-rays.

Elderly male gripping sore wrist from pseudogout

Cause

 

Pseudogout is caused by deposits of calcium pyrophosphate crystals in joint tissues. In most cases, crystals form without a known specific reason. In some instances, a pattern of afflicted family members suggests a genetic disorder, possibly an enzyme deficiency. Disorders of the thyroid or parathyroid glands may also be associated.

Diagnosis

 

Pseudogout is diagnosed by finding crystals in fluid removed by a needle from affected joints. X-ray findings of chondrocalcinosis are frequently seen in these patients. Other causes such as gout and infection must be ruled out.

Health Impact

 

  • Pseudogout afflicts about 3% of people in their 60s and increases with age to as high as 50% in people over 90.
  • Acute attacks of pseudogout often occur in the knees and are incapacitating for days or weeks.
  • Crystal deposits can contribute to a severe form of joint degeneration resulting in chronic disability.
Pseudogout present in elderly woman's hand

Treatment

 

Oral anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroid joint injections are successful in shortening the period of pain and dysfunction of acute episodes of pseudogout. Treatments to prevent attacks, such as colchicine, may be effective. Unfortunately, no treatment is available to dissolve the crystal deposits. Controlling inflammation helps to halt the progression of joint degeneration that often accompanies pseudogout.

 

The Rheumatologist’s Role in the Treatment Of Pseudogout


Rheumatologists are actively engaged in research into the causes of pseudogout so that more effective preventive and therapeutic interventions can be devised. Special skills in the use of anti-inflammatory drugs are required in treating pseudogout since the affected senior population is more susceptible to side effects these medicines. A rheumatologist may need to evaluate the patient on the advisability of surgery on arthritic joints. Rheumatologists direct a team approach to the chronic, degenerative consequences of crystal deposition. Involvement of physical and occupational therapists, counselors and nurses may be needed.