Pseudogout occurs when calcium pyrophosphate (CPP) crystals form in soft tissues. It is not known why some get pseudogout, and others do not. This condition can affect any joint. The knee, ankle, wrist, and large knuckles, though, are most often affected. But, the hip, shoulders, and spine can be too. Although the cause of pseudogout is unknown, there are risk factors and pseudogout symptoms to look out for.
There are risk factors that increase your chances of developing pseudogout. The collection of crystals triggers inflammation. The inflammation triggers several pseudogout symptoms. These often appear quickly, without warning.
Symptoms of a Pseudogout Attack
Many symptoms will resolve within a few weeks. However, they should not be left untreated. If ignored, permanent joint damage can occur. It is best to identify the condition and start treatment. Even if the pain is not severe.
The most common pseudogout symptoms are:
- Joint Pain. This will appear around the affected joints. The joint pain will typically be between 1 and 4 joints. One joint may experience more severe pain than the others.
- Swelling. Fluid accumulates around the joint. This causes noticeable swelling.
- Changes in the skin. Inflammation in the joint can turn the skin red or purple. It will also be warm around the joint. Swelling can cause the skin to stretch as well.
- Stiffness. Swelling interferes with flexibility. Bending the joint can become difficult. Along with constraint, the range of motion can decrease.
- Rapid onset. Pseudogout symptoms develop suddenly. Pain and swelling become severe within 6 to 12 hours.
- Flu-like symptoms. Fever, body aches, and chills can occur. These are inflammatory symptoms. They happen as the immune system reacts to the calcium polyphosphate crystals.
If left untreated, pseudogout episodes can last weeks. They can even last for months. Treatment is crucial to prevent permanent damage.
How is Pseudogout Different from Gout?
The immune system for these has similar responses. Many symptoms are similar too. However, there are crucial differences between gout and pseudogout to be aware of.
- Gout often strikes during the night. Pseudogout occurs at any time of day.
Pseudogout pain is typically less extreme.
- Recurrent gout episodes can cause tophi. These are white uric acid crystal chunks, and they are visible through the skin. However, you do not get these with pseudogout.
- Untreated gout only lasts a few weeks or less. Untreated pseudogout lasts much longer.
- Gout can have apparent triggers. Food, medications, and alcohol are common examples. Whereas pseudogout causes are often unclear.