Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition (CPPD) is one type of arthritis. Because of the similar symptoms and conditions, it is often diagnosed mistakenly as gout. So, this disease is also known as pseudogout. CPPD occurs when calcium phosphate crystals deposit in the joints. It can cause severe pain and inflammation, mostly in knee joints. These crystals work by damaging the cartilage in the joints.
The reasons why these crystals take shape in your joints and cause CPPD are unknown, but researches show that age is one risk factor of the disorder. According to statistics, CPPD occurs in about 3% of individuals in their 60s. For people older than 90, the percentage is nearly 50%. Luckily, the symptoms can be relieved through treatments.
The exact reasons why calcium phosphate crystals occur and lead to CPPD are not completely understood. However, we do find some features based on individuals affected by the disease:
- Older age
- Family genes
- Joint trauma
- Excess calcium and/or iron in the blood
- Low magnesium storage
- A hyperactive parathyroid gland
- An underactive thyroid
Nearly 75% of people with calcium phosphate crystals don’t develop any signs or symptoms. When symptomatic, especially in a CPPD attack condition, the patient may experience:
- Intensive pain
- Swollen joints
- Stiffness, even disability
- Low fever
Please go to see the doctor if you suddenly have severe pain in your joint and find it swelling.
The signs and symptoms of CPPD can resemble those of other types of arthritis, such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis. So, an accurate diagnosis is necessary for the disease. Mostly commonly used tests to make the diagnosis include:
This test is usually carried out in a lab. The process involves aspirating synovial fluid from the joint and then analyzing if there are calcium phosphate crystal deposits in the joint.
Medical imaging tests consist of X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan and MRI. They can be applied to help detect the crystal masses in the affected joint.
You can do other tests, blood test, for example, to rule out arthritis diseases with similar symptoms. This is also an option for confirming CPPD.
Actually, the crystal deposits cannot be dissolved under the contemporary medical developments. In most cases, treatment options are applied to reduce pain and help improve joint functions. They can also help avoid future attacks of the disease. Treatments differ depending on the symptoms and effects of CPPD. Options that can be combined include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are most common to relieve pain and control inflammation. Specific types of NSAIDs involve naproxen (mostly Naprosyn) and Indomethacin (Indocin).
Low-dose colchicine can be effective in preventing CPPD attack when you have mild symptoms. This option is also helpful when you cannot tolerate NSAIDs.
If both above medications are inapplicable to you, you can choose corticosteroids pills to reduce inflammation in your joints. However, taking this kind of medicine for a long time may cause some complications, like diabetes and weight increment. So, consult your doctor before you use it.
In more acute cases, you can choose Plaquenil or methotrexate (MTX) to mitigate the immune response and decrease inflammation.
For patients with acute pain and swelling in their joints, doctors may insert a needle into it and drain some joint fluid out. Corticosteroid injections are often combined with this treatment to suppress inflammation.
In severe cases, doctors may conduct surgery to remove the calcified mass in the joint. But this is still in experiment. Data about this surgery is not adequate to support its practical use.
Home remedies and self-care
Apart from the mentioned treatment options, you can do something at home to relieve the symptoms of CPPD in its initial stage. Suggestions include:
- Use cold packs to reduce the inflammation
- Rest your painful joints
- Take OTC NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium
Keyword: Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition (CPPD).
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What is Pseudogout? And Its Difference from Gout?