Pseudogout signs and symptoms can mimic those of gout and other types of arthritis, so lab and imaging tests are usually necessary to confirm a diagnosis.
Blood tests can check for problems with your thyroid and parathyroid glands, as well as for a variety of mineral imbalances that have been linked to pseudogout. Your doctor may withdraw a sample of the fluid from your affected joint with a needle to test for the presence of crystals.
X-rays of your affected joint often can reveal joint damage and crystal deposits in the joint's cartilage.
There's no cure for pseudogout, but a combination of treatments can help relieve pain and improve the joint's function.
If over-the-counter pain relievers aren't enough, your doctor may suggest:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Prescription strength NSAIDs include naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others) and indomethacin (Indocin). NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and decreased kidney function, especially in older adults.
- Colchicine (Colcrys). Low-dose pills of this gout drug are also effective for pseudogout. If you have frequent episodes of pseudogout, your doctor may recommend that you take colchicine daily as a preventive measure.
- Corticosteroids. If you can't take NSAIDs or colchicine, your doctor may suggest taking corticosteroid pills, such as prednisone, to reduce inflammation and end the attack. Long-term use of corticosteroids can weaken bones and cause cataracts, diabetes and weight gain.
To relieve pain and pressure in an affected joint, your doctor inserts a needle and removes some of the joint fluid, which helps remove some of the crystals from the joint. The doctor will then inject the joint with a numbing medication and a corticosteroid to decrease inflammation.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Home treatments may be useful during pseudogout flare-ups. Examples include:
- NSAIDs. Over-the-counter NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), often are helpful.
- Rest the joint. Try not to use the affected joint for a couple of days.
- Ice. Cold packs can help reduce the inflammation associated with flare-ups.
Preparing for your appointment
You'll probably first see your family doctor. After an initial examination, your doctor may refer you to a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory joint conditions (rheumatologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.
What you can do
Before your appointment, you may want to write a list of answers to the following questions:
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Have you had these symptoms before?
- Does any activity or position make your joint feel better or worse?
- Have you ever injured this joint?
- Do you have any other medical conditions?
- Has anyone in your family had joint problems?
- What medicines or supplements do you take regularly?
What to expect from your doctor
A doctor who sees you for symptoms common to pseudogout may ask a number of questions, such as:
- What are your symptoms?
- What part or parts of your body are affected?
- Do your symptoms come and go?
- How long do symptoms last?
- Have your symptoms worsened over time?
- Does anything seem to trigger your symptoms, such as certain foods or stress?
- Have you tried any treatments? Has anything helped?