Before we start analysing the causes of flare-ups of Pseudogout, it is important to understand what Pseudogout actually means. It is a disease related to Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition. Pseudogout is an arthritis condition which leads to painful swelling in the joints. This condition occurs when the synovial fluid, which helps in lubricating the joints, starts forming crystals inside, leading to pain and inflammation. While this condition can be usually felt in the knees, it is also know to affect the elbows, ankles and the wrists.
What Causes Pseudogout Flare-ups?
As discussed, the crystals formed inside the synovial fluid can lead to swelling and pain and is the primary reason for pseudogout or its flare-ups. When the crystals get deposited in the cartilage, it can cause a lot of damage to the joints. Research shows, the formation of crystals has a direct connection with aging. However, it can also be a hereditary problem.
Though, Pseudogout signifies the presence of calcium crystals in joints, a lot of people never develop pseudogout, in spite of having many crystal deposits. This could be due to their genetic constitution. Pseudogout is quite similar to gout. It is another kind of arthritis or a sort of inflammatory disease, which affects a single joint.
Some of the other factors leading to pseudogout flare-ups include:
- Hypothyroidism or under-activity of the thyroid glands
- Excessive Iron in the joints
- Deficiency of Magnesium
- Hyper-active Parathyroid glands
- Excessive Calcium in the blood.
Diagnosis of Pseudogout
It is important to diagnose pseudogout properly and devise the treatment plan accordingly. To diagnose pseudogout, the doctor will recommend some lab tests and some imaging tests. These are:
- Joint Fluid Analysis: This is done to inspect the crystals of Calcium Pyrophosphate in the bones.
- Blood Tests to Diagnose Pseudogout: These tests can confirm whether one has problems with thyroid or parathyroid glands. Also, it can be used for checking mineral imbalances, which have a direct link with pseudogout. The doctor can also take a fluid sample from the joint with the help of a needle for testing the presence of crystals.
- X-rays for Diagnosing Pseudogout: X-rays are recommended for the joints so that joint damages can be identified. X-rays can also identify calcification of cartilage, and calcium deposits in joint cavities. Seeing the crystals in the joint cavities, the doctors will be able to arrive at the right diagnosis.
Though, the symptoms of pseudogout are similar to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gouty arthritis; the actual disease is quite different from these. Hence, proper diagnosis is required to identify and treat the condition.
How to Get Rid of Pseudogout?
Once the diagnosis is done, the doctors will use various treatment methods to correct pseudogout, depending upon various factors. These treatment procedures include:
Sometimes, to overcome the severe pain and discomfort of pseudogout flare-ups, the doctors might prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These can help in reducing the swelling and thus, giving relief from the pain. However, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are not prescribed if one is already taking blood thinning medicines, or if a person has a poor kidney functioning. Another case where the doctors will refrain from prescribing NSAIDs is when a person is suffering from stomach ulcers, as NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding, especially in elderly people.
To reduce the additional flare-ups, the doctors might also prescribe a really low dose of Colchicine. These are low dose pills, which are quite effective for getting rid of pseudogout flare-ups. In case the patient has frequent flare-ups of pseudogout, the doctor might ask to take this medicine every day as a preventive dose.
In case one is not able to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or Colchicine, the doctor might also prescribe corticosteroid pills, like Prednisone. These are known for reducing the inflammations, and for ending the pseudogout flare-ups. However, a long term use of these medicines can lead to weakening of bones and cause cataracts, weight gains and diabetes.
Joint Drainage as a Way of Getting Rid of Pseudogout:
In case, the joints are completely wearing out, the doctor might recommend surgery so that the joints can be repaired and replaced. A needle would be inserted into the affected joint to remove the synovial fluid from there. Once the fluid is removed, the pressure will be relieved and the inflammation will be reduced. This procedure will actually remove the crystals from the joints. After this, corticosteroid injection would be given for numbing the area and a corticosteroid pill or injection would be given to decrease the inflammations.
Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies to Get Rid of Pseudogout
Other than the treatments provided by the doctor, one can also follow some lifestyle changes, and take on some home remedies, while facing flare-ups of pseudogout.
- OTC Drugs: There are many over the counter drugs, like Ibuprofen and other paracetamol drugs, which can help in providing relief from pain associated with pseudogout flare-ups.
- Resting the Joints: One of the simple home remedies to tackle pseuodogout flare-ups is to try to give utmost rest to the affected joints, and try not to use them for a few days.
- Ice Packs: Cold ice packs are quite effective in reducing inflammations, which are caused due to pseudogout flare-ups.
How to Prevent Pseudogout Flare-ups?
It is not easy to prevent pseudogout from occurring. However, if one is able to treat the under-lying conditions i.e., hypothyroidism and magnesium deficiency, one might be able to slow down the development of pseudogout. That can also lessen the severity of symptoms.
Though, there is no permanent cure to pseudogout, a suitable treatment can help in giving relief from pain, and in improving the functioning of joints. With suitable treatment, the person can find relief in a few days, but the attack can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. While most of the people have only few attacks, the flare-ups can spread across a longer period of time. One just needs to be careful, and get himself treated as soon as he finds himself experiencing any of the symptoms.
Don't suffer the pain in silence, when there are so many treatments available.