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Pseudogout: Understanding Your Prognosis and Changes to Your Diet

Pseudogout: Understanding Your Prognosis and Changes to Your Diet

You’ve probably heard the term gout, an ailment characterized by a sudden onset of pain, usually in the big toe, brought on by an accumulation of urate crystals in joints. But gout is not to be confused with pseudogout (SOO-doe-gout), which literally means “false gout.” The two conditions are similar in that they are both considered types of arthritis caused by crystal deposits in the joints. However, there are marked differences between the two. To understand more about the pseudogout diagnosis, it is important to take a look at what could have triggered the condition and whether or not diet is a contributing factor or cure.

Triggers of Pseudogout and Risk Factors

Older adults who may feel a sudden pain associated with swelling in the knee or wrist may have a condition called pseudogout. Also referred to as CPPD, calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease, pseudogout is a form of arthritis that may come on suddenly and last for days or weeks. This is typically a condition presenting in adults over 60 years old because deposits of calcium pyrophosphate crystals form over time and increase as we age.

Contact National Spine & Pain Centers to schedule an appointment with an affiliated pain specialist today.

These crystals appear in nearly half the population over age 85; however, most people with these deposits never develop pseudogout. There is no clear evidence determining why some are symptomatic, and others are not. The cause is unknown. But for those experiencing the pain, it may start in one joint and progressively intensify to other joints in the body. Research shows these attacks may randomly occur every few weeks after onset; or may occur less than once a year.

As mentioned, age is one of the leading factors increasing the risk of pseudogout. You may also be predisposed, as it can be hereditary. People with excessive calcium or iron in the blood or not enough magnesium have been shown to have an increased risk of pseudogout. Additionally, research also shows people with an underactive thyroid gland or overactive parathyroid gland are more likely to experience symptoms of pseudogout.


Pseudogout most commonly affects the knees, and in some cases, patients may experience pain in the wrists and ankles. The affected joints are usually swollen, warm and painful.

Is Pseudogout Serious?

If you experience this type of pain, it is useful to see a doctor like the pain management specialists at The National Spine & Pain Centers. It’s important to have a proper diagnosis; because if left untreated, the crystal deposits associated with pseudogout can cause joint damage. Many describe the pain as mimicking osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Proper diagnosis leads to the best course of treatment.


Healthcare providers typically recommend treating pseudogout with the same treatments as for gout, using anti-inflammatory medication. However, because the crystal deposits found in pseudogout are different from those found in gout, uric acid-lowering prescriptions are not used.

Treatment is for pain relief and inflammation and to prevent recurrent attacks that could lead to joint damage.

CPPD can't be diagnosed simply from a blood test. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic say it’s diagnosed by the study of the synovial fluid from the inflamed joint, which is observed under a microscope for CPPD crystals. Fluid is aspirated through a needle from the inflamed joint. This procedure is called arthrocentesis. Removing the fluid may also help reduce the pressure within the joint. This can help reduce the pain.

The Difference Between Gout and Pseudogout?

This microscopic diagnosis is how pain management specialists conclusively know if they are treating pseudogout, gout, or any joint arthritis conditions. Proper diagnosis leads to effective treatment. For example, according to the Arthritis Foundation, gout typically presents in the big toe with an abrupt onset. The joint is red, hot, and swollen. Gout is the result of high uric acid levels that form urate crystals around the affected joint. Pseudogout, on the other hand, has CPPD crystals build up in cartilage, which triggers pain and swelling. Doctors will usually treat both conditions the same, with over-the-counter pain relievers and corticosteroids. One difference is that, with gout, dietary recommendations are suggested.

Home Treatments for Gout

Experts often recommend drinking plenty of water, milk, coffee, and tart cherry juice to help the severity of gout. Plus, trying natural remedies like eating more low-purine foods, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol and sugary drinks, taking vitamin C, and eating cherries, may often help the symptoms.

Basic home remedies are also suggested, including rest and icing the swollen joints.

While gout has been linked to consumption of certain foods and drinks, researchers do not know why calcium pyrophosphate crystals form in the joints of individuals experiencing pseudogout.

How does diet affect this condition, like which foods to avoid?

Gout flare-ups can occur with too much meat, seafood, and alcohol. However, diet is not a factor in the development of pseudogout. Though the crystals associated with pseudogout are partly calcium, there is no proof that consuming foods high in calcium precipitates the development of pseudogout.

Book an Appointment

If you are feeling any arthritis joint pain, it’s important to seek the proper diagnosis from a pain management specialist at the National Spine & Pain Centers. Book an appointment so you can have a treatment plan and be on your road to recovery.

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