Chondrocalcinosis is also known as calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate deposition disease (CPPD). Chondrocalcinosis is the streaking of ones soft tissues with calcium. The body deposits too much calcium in these tissues, leading to the disease. This calcium buildup is most often found in the cartilage and joints, but deposits have been known to exist in other tissues as well. The calcium takes the form of crystals in one's joints. These crystals cause the patient pain by inflaming the softer tissues which it surrounds. This disease tends to affect senior citizens more often than healthy young adults. Some people also know this condition by the name Pseudogout.
You may have calcium crystals in your joints already and not even know it. Not everyone who has calcium crystals in their joints will feel their presence. However, they will show up on X-rays. There are also several types of crystals that can develop, each with their own unique symptoms. The Arthritis Foundation lists three main types of symptoms. Chondrocalcinosis is present in over 20 percent of all people at age 80 years or older, but most show no symptoms. The knee joint is most commonly affected joint. Calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease may take a few different arthritis-related forms: osteoarthritis, chronic rheumatoid arthritis (RA)-like inflammatory arthritis, or pseudogout.
Patients may experience symptoms of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of joints following a specific order. First the knees, then ones wrists, followed by the joints of the fingers, hips, shoulders, and lastly the ankles. These joints breakdown over time with osteoarthritis. Some patients may find these joints breakdown worse on one side of the body, over time these joints may become deformed. These symptoms will affect about half of the people with chondrocalcinosis.
Patients may experience very painful inflammation in one or more joints. The affected joint is most often the knee. The affected joint becomes red, hot, swollen, painful and stiff. Some afflicted patients may develop a fever. These symptoms are very similar to gout so when chondrocalcinosis takes on this form it is often referred to as pseudogout. Bouts of pseudogout are called episodes, and episodes can last for weeks. Patients who have these symptoms for years may end up with permanently damaged joints. About 25 percent of all chondrocalcinosis patients will develop pseudogout.
Some patients will over time develop symptoms which highly resemble rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA. These symptoms include stiffness in the joints, especially in the morning, inflammation and fatigue. These symptoms tend to affect several joints in a symmetric pattern, meaning they affect the same joint on each side of one's body, for example, both knees, or both wrists. Only about 5 percent of patients with chondrocalcinosis.
The cause of chondrocalcinosis is not well known nor fully understood. However, there are certain risk factors for chondrocalcinosis, these include:
Almost half of the people over the age of 85 have the crystals present in their joints, but many of them do not have symptoms.
Because this disease mimics several other forms of arthritis, it is difficult to diagnose based on a physical exam alone. If your doctor suspects chondrocalcinosis he or she will likely order either a joint fluid examination or X-rays to determine if you have chondrocalcinosis. Other tests may help to rule out other diseases; in fact, it is very likely your doctor may order a battery of tests just to be through.
There is no way to predict how this disease will affect any particular patient. Some patients will experience recurrent acute attacks, with periods of relief between bouts of the disease. Other patients will develop significant joint damage. This joint damage can significantly impair one's joint function, leading to difficulty in doing everyday tasks. Treatment can lead to relief of the symptoms. However, there is no treatment which will arrest the progress of the disease.
Anyone with chondrocalcinosis in any joint should pursue any and all treatments recommended by their doctor. With chondrocalcinosis, patients can experience the gradual destruction of any affected joints over time. This disease can also greatly affect one's quality of life, so leaving this disease untreated poses long-term risks to any patient. This disease can lead to minor or major impairment of function in vital joints.
Treatment will alleviate symptoms but not reverse the disease. Most people will respond well to treatment. However, a combination of different treatments may be needed to achieve the desired result, which is the relief of pain and inflammation, as well as to improve joint function. Treatments will vary from patient to patient, but most treatments will involve medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids. Injections of medications may be needed for some patients, to remove excess fluids in the joint and to provide a numbing medication along with a corticosteroid to decrease inflammation.
You should always follow your doctor's treatment plan, but there are several things you can do to aid in your treatment plan. Do make sure that you give adequate rest to any painful joints. Cold packs will help to relieve any inflammation you may be experiencing. If you do use cold packs make sure not to overuse them, as this can actually do more harm than good.
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