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Osteoarthritis Health Center

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Arthritis and Pseudogout

How Frequently Do Pseudogout Attacks Occur?

Like gout, pseudogout attacks can recur from time to time in the same joint or in different joints. The initial attack may last five to 12 days unless it is treated. Unlike with gout, which is linked to excessive alcohol consumption and a diet high in seafood and organ meats, pseudogout attacks are not linked to certain foods in your diet.

Over time, pseudogout attacks may increase, involve more joints, cause more severe symptoms, and last longer. The frequency of attacks is variable. Attacks may occur from once every few weeks to less than once a year. Frequent, repeated attacks can damage the affected joints.

How Is Pseudogout Diagnosed?

Pseudogout cannot be diagnosed simply from a blood test. An X-ray of the joint can be taken to look for the presence of calcium containing crystals located within the cartilage. To diagnose the condition, fluid is removed from the inflamed joint and analyzed under a microscope. The presence of CPP crystals indicates pseudogout.

Fluid is removed through a needle from the inflamed joint in a procedure called "arthrocentesis." Removing the fluid also may help reduce the pressure within the joint and thereby reduce pain.

How Is Pseudogout Treated?

The type of pseudogout treatment prescribed will depend on several factors, including the person's age, other medications he or she is taking, overall health, medical history, and the severity of the attacks. Drugs to treat pseudogout include:

  • Anti-inflammatory painkiller drugs, also called (NSAIDs), generally are prescribed to treat sudden and severe pseudogout attacks. NSAIDs -- such as ibuprofen and naproxen -- usually reduce inflammation and pain within hours.
  • Corticosteroids (also called steroids) may be prescribed for people who cannot take NSAIDs. Steroids also work by decreasing inflammation and can be injected into the affected joint or given as pills.
  • Colchicine, a gout drug, is sometimes used in low doses for a longer period of time to reduce the risk of recurrent attacks of pseudogout.

Anti-inflammatory medications are usually continued until the pseudogout attack subsides. Symptoms are often relieved within 24 hours after treatment has begun.

If side effects occur, the medication may be changed.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on November 18, 2015
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