What is Pseudogout? Learn More About its Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Jul 2, 2013 | Last Updated: Mar 1, 2019

What is Pseudogout?

Pseudogout is considered as a form of arthritis that leads to the inflammation, stiffness, and pain in the joints. Here, crystals which are similar to those seen in the cases of gout are formed, thus giving rise to the symptoms. Pseudogout presents the same symptoms like normal gout. But the conditions an be differentiated by the characteristic crystals which can be observed under a microscope;

Who gets Pseudogout?


Men and women are equally likely to contract pseudogout. Pseudogout usually presents itself with certain symptoms that are synonymous to aging. The condition is commonly observed in people who are 60 years and above. People in that age group develop a stiffing pain in the knees and wrists, as a result of pseudogout. If the condition is left untreated, then the symptoms can get worse and the movements can get restricted completely. It’s uncommon for young people to be affected by pseudogout. But, if such a situation arises, then the doctors should investigate for other severe conditions like metabolic and hereditary disorders. Also, those suffering from conditions like hemophilia, ochronosis, and hormonal disorders related to the thyroid gland are also prone to develop pseudogout.

What causes Pseudogout?

Pseudogout occurs due to the abnormal formation of calcium pyrophosphate (CPP) crystals in the region of the cartilage. The formation of crystals in the cartilage can be due to a genetic condition, due to the abnormal properties of the cartilage cells, or due to some other cartilage damaging diseases. Following this, these crystals will be released into the synovial fluid which is present in the joints. The release of crystals can be triggered by factors like a surgery, an injury to the joint, or a sudden illness. The release of these crystals into the synovial fluid can cause a sudden and unexpected arthritis like attack. This condition is termed as pseudogout.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Pseudogout?

There are many symptoms which act as a warning that you may have pseudogout.

  • The main symptom of pseudogout is the sudden and intense pain that can be felt at the joints.
  • The joints will be swollen and warm and tender to touch.
  • The skin around the joints will be discolored and will present itself in a violet or red shade.
  • In some cases, the pain and swelling will be consistent, thus mimicking the condition of gout.

In case of a mild attack of pseudogout, then the symptoms will go within 5 to 12 days, even if proper treatment is not provided.

How Frequently Do Pseudogout Attacks Occur?

Pseudogout attacks do not have a fixed frequency of occurrence.

  • The attacks can vary from time to time and from joint to joint.
  • The attacks can occur within a week or in a period of many years.
  • With the progress of time the frequency and duration of attacks will increase. There will also be an increase in symptoms with every new attack of pseudogout.

How is Pseudogout Treated?

The essential step prior to the treatment of pseudogout is the diagnosis of the condition. The synovial fluid is first removed by a process known as arthrocentesis. Following this, the fluid is analyzed under the microscope to check for the presence of crystals that are characteristic to the condition of pseudogout.

The treatment for pseudogout is intended to completely stop the inflammation that is seen at the joints. If the condition is mild, then it can be handled by the application of ice on the affected area. Performing exercises will help to strengthen the joints in the body, thus reducing the discomfort caused by pseudogout. Resting for a long period of time can also help with this condition. When consulted, doctors usually prescribe non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as a mode of treatment.

In order to reduce the pain and inflammation you have to inject cortisone to the inflamed area. Colchicine is one injection which is used for treating gout. This medication is found to be helpful in treating the condition of pseudogout too. If you are looking for an immediate cure to the pain or if your condition is severe, then you can go in for surgery. This surgery involves the removal of crystals from the fluid so as to get rid of the pain.

The prevention mechanism for pseudogout involves treating the disease with small but daily doses of colchicine. Optimal levels of body hydration should also be maintained this period, to prevent the rise of unwanted consequences. Maintaining a healthy body weight is also essential so as to prevent the recurrence of this condition.

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What is the Prognosis for Pseudogout?

The prognosis of patients who are subjected to pseudogout treatment are good. A well planned treatment of the condition can lead to a complete cure from the pain, tenderness, inflammation, and loss of joint function. But, certain patients tend to contract the disease again after following proper treatment. These patients may be genetically susceptible to the condition or the mode of treatment chosen may not have been optimal for them. In such a case, the patient will end with injured bones and cartilages.

What are Complications of Pseudogout?

If not treated in time, then the condition of pseudogout can give rise to many consequences.

  • One will experience difficulty in moving from one point to the other.
  • The cartilage and the bones of the affected joint an get injured too, thus aggravating the seriousness of the condition.

Expert’s Opinion

The experts at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) have come out with certain guidelines that help in the management of pseudogout. The guidelines state that the patient should be actively involved in the treatment plan to get complete recovery from the condition. Along with making sure that the patients follow the treatment religiously, the guidelines also advise health care professionals to educate patients more on their diet, treatment objectives and lifestyle choices.

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