Gout and Pseudogout Explained

Published by Steve Hedberg on July 17, 2009 Under arthritis

There are many several types of arthritis that are more common than gout, but gout is considered to be one of the most painful types of arthritis. Often, an attack of gout will come on very rapidly and it is usually first noticed at night. It is not uncommon for an individual to goto bed without any gout like symptoms, only to awake with a red and inflamed joint.

Gout is characterized by intense pain and warmth, as well as inflammation, swelling, and redness that usually only affects a single joint. The most common joint that is affected by gout is the big toe, although it can be found in other joints as well.

Causes of Gout

Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid in a persons body, which causes uric acid crystals to begin to form in the joints. As a result of the excess build up of uric acid crystals, inflammation is caused.

Uric acid is created as a by product of eating foods rich in purines, such as liver or kidney, and eating a diet that is high in purines can cause gout. Gout is also sometimes caused by the kidneys inability to break down the uric acid.

Risk Factors of Gout

There are a number of factors that increase the risk of developing gout including:

  • Eating foods with lots of purines: Liver and Kidneys have the highest purine count, but purines are also found in most meats, especially game meat, scallops, sardines, sweetbreads, anchovies, spinach, and mushrooms.
  • Obesity
  • Genetic Makeup
  • Surgery, certain medications, and injury to the joints
  • Being Exposed to Lead
  • Alcohol Consumption


Pseudogout is a disease that shares many of the same symptoms as gout, but is not caused by build ups of uric acid crystals. Instead, pseudogout is caused as a result of calcium pyrophosphate crystals, which cause a gout like reaction. The knees are the most common joint to be affected by pseudogout, although other joints, like the elbow, shoulders, wrist, and ankles, can also be affected.

Risk Factors of Pseudogout

Typically, pseudogout is as a result of:

  • Old Age
  • Hematochromatosis, which is a disease characterized by increased iron absorption
  • Hypothyroidism
  • An Overactive parathyroid
  • Low Levels of Magnesium
  • Hypercalcemia, which refers to elevated calcium levels in the blood stream
  • Genetic Makeup

Diagnosing Gout and Pseudogout

Since gout shares symptoms that are similar to many other types of arthritis, as well as pseudogout, diagnosing gout can be a little tricky. Doctors will usually analyze the fluid in the joint affected by the arthritis to determine if uric acid crystals are present. The uric acid crystals can also often be found just under the skin in tophis, which are a growth caused by a build up of uric acid crystals.


One of the first steps in treating gout is usually modifying the individuals diet to avoid foods that are purine rich. Medication are also available that help to control the inflammation and those that are overweight will need to focus on weight reduction. Colchicine is also often given to gout sufferers, however colchicine is not currently approved by the FDA. Pseudogout is typically also treated with anti-inflammatory medications and colchicine.

Who Can Get Gout

Gout is estimated to make up about 5% of all reported cases of arthritis. It can be found in both males and females of all ages, although the risk of developing gout increase with age. Men are at an increased risk of developing gout and of those affected, most are men over 40 and females that are post menopause.

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