Pseudogout is an arthritic condition that is very similar to gout and is sometimes mistaken for gout. In many cases, pseudogout is asymptomatic, so the person isn’t aware they have it.
If there are symptoms, these include inflammation of the joints (commonly the knees, hips and shoulders, but it can affect any joint), pain and tenderness of the joint, warmth, fever, and a raised white blood cell count.
How is pseudogout different from gout?
Gout is caused by urate crystals forming in the joints, a result of excess urate in the blood or an underlying kidney disease. Pseudogout is caused by a build up of calcium phosphate crystals. This build up can be due to a variety of factors such as:
• Genetics – some cases are hereditary
• Nutritional imbalances
• Age – the older you are, the more likely you are to suffer from pseudogout. Most sufferers are elderly
• Over active thyroid gland
If you have taken too much iron supplement, this can cause pseudogout. Likewise, not having enough magnesium in your diet can do the same.
A joint aspiration will be performed. This is where a needle is inserted into the swollen area and fluid drawn off to see if it contains calcium phosphate crystals. Doctors can tell the difference between calcium phosphate crystals and urate crystals if they examine them under a microscope. An X-ray can also determine whether there is any damage to the joints.
Treatment is similar for pseudogout as it is for gout. Anti-inflammatory painkillers, like ibuprofen, will reduce pain and swelling. If you have a heart condition, talk to your doctor as this method is not suitable for people with heart conditions. Anti-inflammatory drugs can cause a heart attack if taken long-term.
If you are contraindicated, a drug called Colchicine can be given instead, which is a steroid injection into the affected joint. Drawing off fluid via needle can be pain relieving. Seeing a nutritionalist may help if your pseudogout is caused by nutritional problems. If you are low in magnesium, taking a supplement and making sure your foods are magnesium rich.