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What is Pseudogout?

Pseudogout is an inflammatory arthritis that is due to the presence of irritating crystals in the joint. As with Gout, these crystals trigger a localised immune inflammatory response which causes inflammation in the lining of the joint and the production of fluid in the joint. This causes affected joints to be very red and swollen.

The crystals that irritate the joint are not the same as the crystals in Gout. These crystals are called Calcium Pyro Phosphate Crystals or CPP for short.

Pseudogout can also be called CPPD: Calcium Pyro Phosphate Disease.

It is called Pseudogout because the way the joints are affected is very similar to Gout, but the cause is different.

What causes Pseudogout?

We don't know what causes the formation of these crystals in the joints. Nor do we understand why some people with these crystals in the joints get acute attacks, and others remain asymptomatic.

These crystals form in cartilage. Why they form and why and how acute attacks are brought on we do not fully understand.

Trauma, surgery and severe medical illness can bring on episodes in people predisposed to this condition.

What are the symptoms of Pseudogout?

An acute attack of Pseudogout is exquisitely painful. Affected joints are very swollen, very red hot and painful.

People can have high fevers, feel very unwell faint and dizzy.

The knee is the most common joint affected, with 50% of people with Pseudogout having this joint involved.

It is more likely to involve the joints of the hand and arm than Gout.

How do we treat Pseudogout?

As with all forms of Arthritis, treatment of this condition depends on where it is, which joint is affected, how many joints and how severe it is and thus treatment needs to be tailored for each person.

Things that can be trialled are anti-inflammatories, Prednisolone, or cortisone injections.

Episode of Pseudogout last longer than episodes of Gout, and thus treatment may need to go for a few weeks instead of a few days.

If an episodes of Pseudogout doesn't resolve and instead becomes a more chronic form of arthritis then a different form of treatment will need to be considered in discussion with your Rheumatologist.

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