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What is Pseudogout?

Pseudogout is a type of arthritis that is characterized by the development of a painful swelling that occurs suddenly in one or more joints. It is also known as calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease (CPPD) because of the type of crystals that are deposited on the joint during the disease process.

Joints Commonly Affected by Pseudogout

The most commonly affected joints are the knees, followed by the wrists and ankles.

Symptoms of Pseudogout

During a pseudogout attack, the following signs and symptoms may be experienced in the affected joints:

  • Swelling
  • Warmth
  • Severe pain

Causes of Pseudogout

Pseudogout has been associated with the deposition of pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals inside the joint, although most people with such crystal deposits do not develop pseudogout.  These crystals increase in number as you grow older and are present in at least half of the population over the age of 85 years.

Risk Factors for Pseudogout

The following factors put you at a higher risk of developing pseudogout:

  • Old age: Your risk for developing pseudogout increases as you grow older.
  • Traumatic joint injury: Having sustained serious joint trauma or undergoing surgery increases your risk.
  • Genetic predisposition: You may be at a higher risk for pseudogout if other members of your family have the condition.
  • Mineral imbalance: High blood levels of calcium and iron, and low levels of magnesium increase your risk for pseudogout.
  • Certain medical conditions: Pseudogout has been linked with the presence of an underactive thyroid gland or an overactive parathyroid gland.

Complications of Pseudogout

The pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals which have been linked to pseudogout may damage the joint, mimicking signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. 

  • University of Arizona
  • Cal Poly Pomona
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • U.S. Ski & Snowboard
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • Stanford University
  • Biological Association
  • AANA Advancing the Scope