Crystalline Arthritis is a term used to describe arthritic disorders characterized by small crystals that are present in joints and soft tissues.
These crystals can trigger episodes of severe inflammation, and can lead to destructive arthritis or premature degenerative arthritis over time.
The most common causes of crystalline arthritis are gout, and CPPD arthropathy (generally termed “pseudogout”).
Gout is caused by chronically elevated levels of uric acid. The uric acid eventually forms crystals which can deposit in many different joints but most commonly in the lower extremities and other distal joints. Often times, severe attacks of arthritis occur which can be quite debilitating. If the crystals are present in high numbers they can lead to accumulations of crystals called tophi which can deform or destroy joints. Gout is usually treated with medications to lower uric acid levels and to treat episodes of inflammation, and often times dietary and lifestyle changes can assist in the recovery. This condition is very treatable with many options available.
CPPD arthropathy (calcium phyrophosphate dihydrate deposition disorder) often presents as “pseudogout” with severe attacks of inflammation and demonstration of a CPPD crystal in the joint and/or soft tissues. CPPD arthropathy is unique in that it can be associated with metabolic disorders that rheumatologists are able to rule in or out with clinical examination, and x-ray / laboratory studies. This condition can be associated with premature osteoarthritis in unusual locations. The crystals themselves cannot be removed, but the crystals do not form large masses and the disease itself is usually quite manageable after diagnosis.
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