Gout / Pseudogout
Gout and pseudogout (SOO-doe-gout) are two types of inflammatory arthritis that can cause joint pain and discomfort. While they may sound alike, they have different causes and treatments.
Gout is a painful form of arthritis that happens when there’s a buildup of uric acid in your body. The extra uric acid causes sharp calcium pyrophosphate crystals to form in your joints. They most commonly affect your big toe, but can affect other joints, including your knees, ankles, feet, elbows, or hands and wrists.
Pseudogout also occurs when calcium pyrophosphate crystals accumulate in and around the joints, but the most commonly affected joints are the larger joints, such as the knees, followed by the hips, wrists, ankles, and shoulders, although any joint in the body can be affected.
There is no cure for gout or pseudogout, but with proper care, such as medications, lifestyle modifications, and following medical advice, symptoms can be controlled and flare-ups can be minimized. You’ll experience fewer attacks when you work with your doctor to help manage your symptoms and lower your uric acid levels.
What are the Symptoms of Gout/Pseudogout?
Gout and pseudogout bring along a set of distinct symptoms to keep an eye on.
- Intense Joint Pain: Gout most often targets the joint located at the base of the big toe, although it can also strike other joints like the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers. The pain it unleashes can be sharp, throbbing, and excruciating.
- Swelling and Redness: Prepare for some unwanted inflammation and redness. The joint in question becomes tender, swollen, and inflamed. The skin surrounding the joint may appear flushed, almost shiny, and radiate warmth upon contact.
- Limited Range of Motion: When pain and swelling join forces, movement becomes a challenge. The affected joint’s mobility may leave you struggling to bend, flex, or apply any weight without wincing in pain.
- Recurrent Attacks: Gout tends to occur in episodes or attacks, which can last for a few days to several weeks. After an attack, the symptoms may subside, and the joint may return to normal. However, without appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes, gout attacks can become more frequent and severe over time.
For individuals grappling with pseudogout, symptoms may not always make themselves known. But for those who do experience them, here’s what to be aware of:
- Low-Grade Fever: Pseudogout may accompany a mild fever, indicating the body’s response to the condition. While not as severe as a high fever, it serves as a subtle sign of inflammation.
- Joint Inflammation with Acute Attacks: Pseudogout can lead to bouts of joint inflammation like gout. These attacks, though less common, can still bring about discomfort and pain, impacting the affected joints.
How We Diagnose Your Condition?
At SMC, we can typically diagnose gout/pseudogout with a physical exam. We’ll ask you about your symptoms and examine your affected joints. Tell your doctor when you first noticed symptoms like pain and swelling in your joint and how often the symptoms come and go.
You may also need:
- Blood tests to measure the uric acid in your blood.
- Joint aspiration (a needle removes a sample of fluid from inside a joint)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- A CT (computed tomography) scan — specifically a dual-energy CT scan
Treatment at SMC
For sudden gout attacks and flare ups, your doctor may recommend certain over-the-counter pain relievers. Prescription medications and injections can also help relieve pain and reduce swelling and inflammation. Diet and lifestyle changes have also been proven to prevent gout attacks. It’s important to work with a team of experts who can help you manage your condition and prevent future flare ups.
Gout and pseudogout can cause significant discomfort and affect the quality of life for individuals experiencing joint pain. With the right approach, individuals can lead a fulfilling and active life. Schedule an appointment with our Rheumatology team at SMC Physicians today for proper diagnosis and personalized treatment.
Conditions We Treat
We provide ultrasound-guided arthrocentesis (joint injections) of both steroids and gel injections such as Orthovisc and Synvisc.
We offer a state-of-the art private infusion center at each location, offering the following medications and more:
Our Rheumatology Locations: