Pseudogout is a form of arthritis that is caused by deposits of crystals in and around the joints and is characterized by sudden, painful swelling in one or more of your joints. These episodes can last for days or weeks. The most commonly affected joint is the knee. Also called calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease, the common term "Pseudogout" was coined for the condition's similarity to gout. Both conditions are caused by crystal deposits within a joint, although the type of crystal differs for each condition. It is not clear why crystals form in your joints and cause Pseudogout, but the risk increases with age.



Pseudogout can result in arthritis of a number of joints, but it most commonly affects the knees. Less often, the wrists, shoulders, hips and ankles are involved. During a Pseudogout attack, the affected joints are usually swollen, warm and severely painful. The "attacks" of joint inflammation, characterized by acute joint swelling, warmth, stiffness, and pain, may last for days to weeks and can resolve spontaneously.



Pseudogout is clearly related to aging as it is more common in the elderly and is associated with degenerative arthritis. Pseudogout is primarily caused by the precipitation of calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals developing within a joint space. These crystals become more numerous as people age, appearing in nearly half the population older than 85. But most people who have these crystal deposits never develop Pseudogout. It is still unclear why some people have symptoms and others do not.


Risk Factors

Factors that can increase your risk of Pseudogout include:

  • Older age
  • Joint trauma
  • Genetic disorder
  • Mineral imbalances (The risk of Pseudogout is higher for people who have excessive calcium or iron in their blood or too little magnesium)
  • Other medical conditions, such as an underactive thyroid gland or an overactive parathyroid gland



The crystal deposits associated with Pseudogout can also cause joint damage, which can mimic the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Pseudogout can be complicated by difficulty in walking and injury to the cartilage and bone of affected joints.



Patients with known Pseudogout should stay well hydrated before and after operations to minimize the risk of attacks of Pseudogout. Resting the joints may help during a flare-up