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Pseudogout results from a build up of calcium crystals (calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate) in a joint. The joint reacts to the calcium crystals by becoming inflamed. The calcium deposits and chronic inflammation can cause parts of the joint structure to weaken and break down. Cartilage, the tough elastic material that cushions the ends of the bones, can begin to crack and get holes in it. Bits of cartilage may break off into the joint space and irritate soft tissues, such as muscles, and cause problems with movement.

The word 'pseudogout' actually means 'fake' or 'imitation gout.' Like the disease gout, pseudogout can come on as sudden, recurrent attacks of pain and swelling in a single joint. Gout is also caused by the build-up of crystals within a joint. However, gout is caused by the build-up of uric acid crystals, rather than the calcium crystals. Gout usually attacks the big toe, while pseudogout most often attacks the knee.

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How common is pseudogout?
What are the warning signs of pseudogout?
What causes pseudogout?

Establishing the correct diagnosis is very important because something can be done to manage most forms of arthritis, and most therapies work best when started early in the disease.

Your doctor may be able to diagnose that you have pseudogout based on a review of your medical history and a physical examination. Certain other tests may be ordered by your doctor to confirm the diagnosis, to determine if joint damage exists, or to distinguish between different types of arthritis. These tests may include x-rays, blood tests, or joint fluid tests.

There is no cure for pseudogout but there are steps you can take to reduce pain and stiffness and make movement easier. Active involvement in your prescribed treatment plan is essential.

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Arthritis medications are designed to control a disease, slow its progression, and to help manage pain. There is a wide range of options – with new ones coming on the horizon – so understanding all possible treatments is not easy. 

These medications can be very complex, so you are encouraged to ask for in-depth explanations from your health care team – including pharmacists, who are an excellent source of information. 

To explore this area of treatment, The Arthritis Society has developed a comprehensive expert guide that delivers detailed information on medications used to treat arthritis.

Explore the Arthritis Medications A Reference Guide

The optimal treatment is what is best in each individual case – so speak with your doctor and/or pharmacist about what kind of medications are most appropriate for you.

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The Arthritis Society provides a range of in-person workshops and online programs, all with a specific focus in mind. They include chronic pain management, overcoming fatigue, understanding your health-care team, symptom checkers, and more. Participants learn new information and skills, and for in-person workshops, can share ideas and experiences with others.

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