Chondrocalcinosis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Recovery, Exercises, Home Remedies

What is Chondrocalcinosis?

Chondrocalcinosis is a type of arthritis which results in the pain in the one or multiple human joints accompanied by swelling. The condition can persist for a long period of time right from days to weeks. Knee is considered as one of the most affected areas by chondrocalcinosis.

What is Chondrocalcinosis

Formation of crystals in joints would increase with age. Researchers do not clearly know why these crystals form and reason to chondrocalcinosis. The treatment for chondrocalcinosis would go a long way in eliminating the inflammation and reduction of pain.

Chondrocalcinosis is one of the primary causes of pain and tenderness in the knee joints. Continuous inflammation can lead to swelling accompanied by redness in the joints. In majority of cases, the chondrocalcinosis affects the knee along with the wrist area however it can also affect hips and shoulders.

Chondrocalcinosis Vs. Pseudogout: What is the Difference between Chondrocalcinosis and Pseudogout?

Both chondrocalcinosis and pseudogout are used alternately sometimes by the physicians prompting people to think that they are same however it is partly true. Chondrocalcinosis and pseudogout both cause the formation of the crystal deposits in the joints however the categories or types of crystals formed is different.

Causes of Chondrocalcinosis

Chondrocalcinosis is responsible for the production of calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate compounds that form the crystals in the areas of the joints, especially knee joints. They increase in numbers with the age however many of the older people do not get affected by chondrocalcinosis. Researchers are puzzled as to why some individuals in spite of suffering from crystal formation are not infected with chondrocalcinosis.

Chondrocalcinosis Caused Due to Genetic Factors

Genes can play a role in causing chondrocalcinosis. Researchers are of the view that chondrocalcinosis is caused due to the genetic traits. Crystals appear in the area of the joints and later on it spreads into the synovial fluid. Due to excessive pain, the joint is swollen and the symptoms resemble that of the gout. The pain would last for many days and might extend to weeks. It is accompanied by redness and tender joints that create lots of problems to the patients. The symptoms continue to recur on a regular basis and become manifested permanently in the body.

Advancing Age – As a Cause of Chondrocalcinosis

As the age of the individuals increases the possibility of crystal formation leading to chondrocalcinosis also increases. Crystal deposits are formed at an increasing pace with the age and really picks up after the age of 50. According to the researchers, about 3% of the population of elders gets affected by the disease once they reach the age of 60s. The synovial fluid of the joint is examined in the laboratory to assess the formation of the crystals. Surgical process called arthrocentesis is used to eliminate the crystals from the affected area. Needle and syringes are the two equipments that are used to drain out the fluid from the joint. Generally the patients suffering from chondrocalcinosis has a high white blood cell count at that time. After the surgery, X-ray might display the crystals in the cartilage and also in the fluid. Serum calcium is known to exist in the vicinity although the parameters are within the normal limits.

Who Gets Chondrocalcinosis?

Chondrocalcinosis is common among both men and women. The symptoms of chondrocalcinosis are quite similar to gout and affect people who have reached the age of 60. It is also manifested in people with symptoms of kidney failure or suffering from the imbalance in the calcium accompanied by imbalance in iron metabolism, phosphate. It can also affect the patients with thyroid problems and osteoarthritis. The person experiences pain along with redness and the swollen joints. Younger individuals rarely get affected with chondrocalcinosis.

Signs and Symptoms of Chondrocalcinosis

Chondrocalcinosis is prominently seen in knee region. Sometimes ankles, wrists also get affected. During chondrocalcinosis attack the patients suffer following signs and symptoms:

  • Swollen knees accompanied by strange warmth in the joint.
  • Extreme pain in the joints.

If you are experiencing sudden pain accompanied by swelling it is time for you to visit the doctor.

Risk Factors for Chondrocalcinosis

The factors responsible for enhancing the risk of chondrocalcinosis are:

  • As the person grows older, the likelihood of chondrocalcinosis also increases.
  • If you experience an intense injury at the joint, it can snow ball into chondrocalcinosis.
  • It has been found that chondrocalcinosis traces from the genetic lineage in some families.
  • If the body is infected with excess iron or calcium, instances of chondrocalcinosis may occur.
  • Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidisms are also considered the possible reasons of the chondrocalcinosis.

Complications in Chondrocalcinosis

Crystal deposits leading to chondrocalcinosis if left untreated might lead to the severe damages of the joint area. The symptoms are quite similar to the osteoarthritis disease. It also resembles closely to rheumatoid arthritis.

One of the major complications of chondrocalcinosis is that it can trigger the spread of osteoarthritis to different parts of the body which leads to wear and tear of cartilage joint, bone spurs or sometimes fractures. These things happen in the joints of wrists along with knuckles which are not usually involved in osteoarthritis.

Physicians can treat the disease of chondrocalcinosis but it is highly likely that it might transform into chronic arthritis. The treatment procedure for chronic arthritis is identical to that of osteoarthritis.

Tests to Diagnose Chondrocalcinosis

There are mainly 2 types of tests for diagnosing chondrocalcinosis, lab tests and X-rays. Chondrocalcinosis 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 of chondrocalcinosis.

Lab Tests to Diagnose Chondrocalcinosis

Lab tests are primary used to diagnose chondrocalcinosis. 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 chondrocalcinosis. Your doctor may withdraw a sample of the fluid from your affected joint with a needle to test for the presence of crystals.

Imaging Tests to Diagnose Chondrocalcinosis

Imaging tests such as X-rays are used to diagnose chondrocalcinosis. X-rays of your affected joint often can reveal joint damage and crystal deposits in the joint’s cartilage.

Treatment for Chondrocalcinosis

Holistic treatment for chondrocalcinosis is essential to keep the disease under control and improve the quality of life of the patients.

  1. Medications for Treating Chondrocalcinosis

    If over-the-counter pain relievers are not enough for managing the pain for chondrocalcinosis, your doctor may suggest other medicines:

    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for chondrocalcinosis such as anaprox, along with Naprosyn are quite useful in treatment of the pain but long term consumption might cause kidney failure in elderly people. Sometimes it might also result in the bleeding in stomach.
    • Colchicine or Colcrys for treating chondrocalcinosis can be taken in lower dosage but if the inflammation increases one should consume it on a regular basis.
    • Corticosteroids for treating chondrocalcinosis can be taken for a short period of time to get relief from the swelling and tenderness. Long term usage is dangerous as the medicine can cause diabetes along with cataracts.
  2. Joint Drainage for Treating Chondrocalcinosis

    Joint drainage treatment for chondrocalcinosis is administered to reduce the pain. The affected joint is operated upon as the doctors use syringe to extract the fluid partially from the affected joint. It will also remove some crystals and release the pressure on the joints. Later on the corticosteroid injection is administered to reduce the instances of inflammation.

  3. Joint Immobilization for Treating Chondrocalcinosis

    Joint immobilization can help in reducing the pain caused by chondrocalcinosis. Individual suffering from intense inflammation of joint should avoid doing intensive physical activities such as walking and running because they can create extreme pressure on the joints. Proper rest for a certain period of time would go a long way in providing pain relief to the affected part. Sometimes, temporary splint is used to prevent the additional movement of the joints which are affected by chondrocalcinosis.

  4. Treatment of the Related Conditions for Chondrocalcinosis

    The crystals can be formed in a joint because of other conditions. In case the development of crystal in the joints is caused due to other diseases, it has to be treated as quickly as possible. It will not interfere with chondrocalcinosis treatment.

What Other Conditions Can Accompany Chondrocalcinosis?

Chondrocalcinosis can affect the people as they age or it may be caused due to genetic issues. There are many other diseases such as hemophilia along with hemochromatosis that could be the possible reasons for the occurrence of chondrocalcinosis. The above mentioned issues also incorporate hormonal disorders. You need to undergo detailed checkup before consulting the specialists for treatment.

Surgery for Chondrocalcinosis

Although surgery for chondrocalcinosis can be performed to eliminate the calcifications from the joint however it is not a practical remedy till date.

Lifestyle Changes for Chondrocalcinosis

Lifestyle changes can be of great help if there are any sudden chondrocalcinosis flare-ups.

  • If there is a sudden flare-up of chondrocalcinosis, the patients can use over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The medicines that do not require prescriptions can be good option for the patients. Some of them include ibuprofen along with naproxen sodium.
  • Relaxing the affected joint is a good lifestyle change. Do not try to do lots of activities with the knees which are affected by chondrocalcinosis.
  • One of the best lifestyle changes to eliminate inflammation caused by chondrocalcinosis is to apply ice cold pack in the affected area.

Home Remedies for Chondrocalcinosis

There is no guaranteed diet that can help as a home remedy for chondrocalcinosis. The patient of chondrocalcinosis should change the diet and maintain a balanced weight so that the pressure on the knee does not increase. It will provide pain relief to the joints. Supplements which are used as home remedies for chondrocalcinosis are used to remove the crystals from the joints. It is vital for the patients to avoid diet that can aid in inflammation of the joints and bones.

One should refrain from the diet which is rich in Omega 6 fatty acids and also trans-fatty acid. There are many supplements in the market that tend to aid inflammation. One needs to have complete dietary information in an easy and hassle free manner.

Some of the food ingredients such as corn along with peanuts should not be part of the menu. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to get relief from pain and inflammation of the joints. Flax seeds along with fish oil and salmon are very popular home remedies among the patients of chondrocalcinosis. Fruits contain lots of antioxidants that prevent the formation of crystals in the joints. Vitamin A along with C and E helps to boost the immune system and inhibit the production of the free radicals in the blood. Radicals always focus on healthy molecules and try to infect them by robbing a single electron. As a result, the immune system deteriorates and leads to an increase in the intensity of chondrocalcinosis inflammation.

Selenium is also critical as it interacts with the free radicals and prevents the inflammation from snow balling into further chondrocalcinosis complications. It works with the vitamins and makes sure that chondrocalcinosis is treated in a natural manner. If the immune system of the body is excellent, it can easily ward off chondrocalcinosis with minimum quantity of medications. Calcium and magnesium also plays a very important role in the home remedies of chondrocalcinosis. Calcium can cause lots of problems to the patients in the formation of the crystals, therefore individuals should not consume the calcium supplement but use the magnesium medications as it not only provide strength to the muscles but also regulates the quantity of the calcium in blood.

Coping with Chondrocalcinosis

Patient suffering from the disease of chondrocalcinosis should modify the diet by staying away from polyunsaturated vegetable oils because they tend to increase the inflammation of the chondrocalcinosis joints. Margarine along with hydrogenated vegetable oils should be avoided as much as possible.

You should consume oily fish along with flax seeds because they are rich sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. Fruits and vegetables can do wonders for the chondrocalcinosis patients because they are rich sources of antioxidants that would help to eliminate the free radicals inside the body. Chondrocalcinosis patients should also consume antioxidant vitamin pills in copious amounts to ward off the symptoms. Consumption of water along with exercises would regulate the body metabolism and help you to stay fit.

Recovery Period/Healing Time for Chondrocalcinosis

There are many factors including the age of the patients along with extent of disease that determines the recovery period/ healing time for chondrocalcinosis. One should not sulk after hearing of the disease because it can be treated and the patient can lead a normal life. It is important to contact the physician who might call the specialist to check the possibility of the rheumatoid arthritis. Patients can take few steps to enhance the recovery period for chondrocalcinosis:

  • It is important to gather information about chondrocalcinosis from the internet.
  • Consult the doctors on a regular basis.
  • Physiotherapist would help to improve the condition of the joints which are affected by chondrocalcinosis.
  • One should try to avoid the triggers causing severe pain in the chondrocalcinosis joints.
  • The medications play a vital role in the treatment of chondrocalcinosis.

Exercises for Chondrocalcinosis

Regular exercises after the complete treatment of chondrocalcinosis can help preventing the chondrocalcinosis in the long run. Exercises would go a long way in eliminating the stiffness in the joint and also plays a very important role in enhancing the strength of the muscle. If the muscles in close vicinity of the joints gain strength, they will provide relief from the pain. While doing exercises for chondrocalcinosis be careful not to overstretch and hurt the joints.

Stretching exercises for chondrocalcinosis should be relaxing as it can provide relief from pain to the patients. Aerobics can improve the life style because they are crucial in making the heart and lungs healthy to a great extent. Intensity of the activity is directly proportional to the extents of the disease. If you do not have any prior information about the exercises, consult the physical therapist (PT) who may chart out a series of physical activities that can prove helpful from long term perspective.

  1. Range of Motion (ROM) Exercises for Chondrocalcinosis

    ROM or Range of motion exercises for chondrocalcinosis focuses on joints and helps in its complete movement to get relief from pain. ROM exercises would go a long way in eliminating the associated stiffness. The joint is moved in such a manner that it retains its original position. To start with knee, you need to stretch the leg out and try bending the knee. Do not overdo it but do as long as you feel comfortable. The exercise should be repeated 10 times on a regular basis. The slow exercises would help to make the stiff joints flexible over a period of time. In case, the pain shoots up within the joint, it is important to reduce the frequency of the exercises. It goes a long way in preventing the instances of joint contractures in an impeccable manner.

  2. Stretching Exercises for Chondrocalcinosis

    One of the most important benefits of the stretching exercises for chondrocalcinosis is that it makes the joints flexible to a great extent. Stiff muscle would not allow the free movement in the area. Sometimes, if the muscles are stretched they can cause problems to the joint and make it unstable to a great extent. One needs to do intensive stretching before and after the completion of the exercises for chondrocalcinosis. It is performed for half a minute and should be repeated 3 times in a given week. The muscle tension combined with elasticity would help to patient to obtain relief.

  3. Strengthening Exercises for Chondrocalcinosis

    The strengthening exercises for chondrocalcinosis is instrumental in enhancing the durability of the muscles by many notches. If the muscle is strong, it can easily absorb the pain radiating from the joints. Initially, you should keep the frequency of the exercise to minimum, however later on it could be increased as the muscle gain strength. The strengthening exercises for chondrocalcinosis are carried out 4 times within one week and addition 2 times to ensure the maintenance of the muscles. If you want to add more power to the muscle use high weight exercise with lower frequency. To enhance durability low weight with higher frequency is the best bet to go. If you are comfortable with the increasing load of the workout, consult the physiotherapist to increase the weight or make the activities more complex.

  4. Aerobic Exercises for Chondrocalcinosis

    Aerobic exercises for chondrocalcinosis assist in improving on the functioning of the heart along with lungs. FITT principle in aerobic exercises for chondrocalcinosis includes:

    1. Frequency: Three exercises should be performed more than couple of times in a week for managing chondrocalcinosis.
    2. Intensity: Initially the intensity should be low but later on it can be increased to moderate.
    3. Time: The time duration of exercise should be 120 minutes in a week for managing chondrocalcinosis.
    4. Type: You can do physical activity such as biking or walking for 10 minutes so that the muscles can work in an impeccable manner. It is important to track the heart beats during the exercise and it should not exceed more than 220.
  5. Hydrotherapy for Chondrocalcinosis

    Hydrotherapy for chondrocalcinosis can help in managing chondrocalcinosis. Patients should do exercises in the water to get relief from the symptoms in an impeccable manner. Water has a therapeutic effect on the body. The force on knees and hips are reduced by many notches in the water. Chondrocalcinosis affected joints are not compressed as much as in water as in air due to the upward thrust. There are many warm pools that provide relief to the patients in an impeccable manner. Temperature of the pool is generally ranges from 92 to 96 degree F. Muscles are relaxed in the water and spasm do not occur in majority of cases. The soft tissues in the warm water are known to increasingly become flexible. One of the drawbacks of doing exercise in warm water is that it might increase the heart rate by many notches. Therefore one should consult the doctor before indulging in intensive physical activity in the pool.

Yoga Poses/Asanas for Chondrocalcinosis

Yoga poses/asanas can help in treating many kinds of knee problems including chondrocalcinosis. Yoga goes a long way in providing relief and strength to the knee. It also helps the area to bear the pressure caused by the thigh muscles. Due to regular exercises the calf muscles also get strong over a period of time. Some yoga poses/ asanas prescribed for chondrocalcinosis by the therapeutic experts are as follows:

  1. The bridge pose or setu bandha sarvangasana is an impeccable easy pose for relaxation of the chondrocalcinosis caused joints.
  2. The easy pose or sukhasana
  3. The extended triangle pose also called utthita trikonasana
  4. The garland pose also known as Malasana
  5. The standing forward bend or the padahastasana
  6. ‘Reclined leg raises’ along with the ‘tree pose’ are very popular among the patients of chondrocalcinosis.
  7. The child’s pose or balasana
  8. The triangluar pose also called as trikonasana is used to provide strength to the knees of chondrocalcinosis patients.
  9. Utkatasana or The supported chair pose
  10. Veerasana also called the chair pose go a long way in delivering impeccable results to the chondrocalcinosis patients.

Yoga is recommended to the chondrocalcinosis patients only if the pain caused due to the onset of the chondrocalcinosis is completely eliminated. It should always be performed under the supervision of an expert trainer. Once you have learnt the different poses, it is possible to practice at home on a regular basis to get relief.

Prognosis/Outlook for Chondrocalcinosis

The prognosis/outlook for chondrocalcinosis is good. If chondrocalcinosis is treated promptly, the patient gets complete respite from pain and joint inflammation in an impeccable manner. The ensuing tenderness along with redness disappears quickly and effectively. Treatment would cure inflammation however it may take several weeks. If the pain is occurring in the joints on a regular basis, it can infect the cartilage bones as well.

Prevention of Chondrocalcinosis

Prevention and recurrence of chondrocalcinosis is possible if you take few precautions. Patients with chondrocalcinosis should consume lot of water so that they can ward off the possible attacks of chondrocalcinosis. It is important to let the joints relax when the pain shoots up. Colchicine is the prominent medication used to treat the symptoms of the pseudogout. Although the branded version of the medication is expensive for majority of patients but a generic version was launched in 2015 to reduce the cost of the treatments.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 1, 2019

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