Learning About Pseudogout

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Inflamed knee joint with detail of calcium crystals and damaged cartilage in joint space

What is it?

Pseudogout is a type of arthritis that causes joint pain and swelling. The symptoms are similar to those of gout. Both diseases are caused by deposits of tiny crystals. But gout is caused by uric acid. Pseudogout is caused by calcium pyrophosphate. It may also be called calcium pyrophosphate deposition (CPDD) disease.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include pain, redness, heat, and swelling in joints, usually the knee. Symptoms usually begin quickly. Pain and swelling can last days or weeks. For some people, these symptoms are an ongoing problem. Others may just have flare-ups now and then. Call your doctor if you get a fever or treatment isn't helping.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and past health. You will be given a physical exam and blood tests. Your doctor may also take a sample of fluid from your joint to look for crystals. And you may have imaging tests, such as an X-ray, to look for joint damage.

How is it treated?

To reduce pain and swelling, your doctor may remove some of the fluid from the joint. You may also get a steroid shot in the joint.

If you have flare-ups now and then, your doctor may suggest over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen and naproxen.

Some people may need prescription medicines to treat their symptoms or to help keep symptoms from coming back. These may be colchicine, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or steroid pills.

If you have ongoing problems, you may need to take a daily medicine.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.