Gout has been described as a form of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the blood, damaging, joints, tendons, and other tissues. It can cause burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint (usually a big toe), and attacks can happen over and over unless it is treated. It is different from "pseudo gout" in that it is not a symptom of a deadly genetic disease, as is the case with the "pseudo gout" of hemochromatosis.
Very often if people are overweight, drink too much alcohol, or eat too much meat and fish that are high in chemicals called purines, this can result in a flare-up, but mercifully such attacks can also be few and far between. Most of the time, having too much uric acid is not harmful. On the other hand, too much iron, which causes hemochromatosis, is potentially fatal. The agony of pseudo gout is not only excruciating; it is a red flag for that disorder.
The Number One Inherited Disorder
As I have explained in previous articles on the subject, hemochromatosis is the number one genetic disorder while, paradoxically, it is also the one that is most often dismissed as "rare." Because it so often goes unrecognized, it is seldom diagnosed before it is clinically manifest. Most of the suffering associated with the disease is preventable if potential victims are detected in time; even when it has become symptomatic, many serious complications are reversible, but only by timely diagnosis and treatment.
Symptoms vary, but many hemochromatotics experience chronic fatigue, severe abdominal pain, bouts of nausea, diminished memory, and disorientation for many years before diagnosis. In later years, there could be some degree of hearing loss.However, I have, for years, been campaigning for the prompt recognition of chondrocalcinosis (also known as "pseudo gout") to be recognized as one of the most prominent symptoms. In my book The Bronze Killer I have described how my husband’s aching hands would lock on the steering wheel of the car, and also describe a segment from a TV interview with the CBC in which he — once thought to be possibly the best jazz mandolin player in the world — had been handicapped by the crippling of those once agile hands.
At Last This Is Being Taken Seriously!
In a recent report by A.E. Timms and colleagues published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases and and titled "Genetic testing for haemochromatosis in patients with chondrocalcinosis," the authors write that "…Given the early mortality associated with untreated haemochromatosis … routine screening for haemochromatosis in patients with appreciable chondrocalcinosis is recommended."
Calcium Pyrophosphate Dihydrate Crystal Deposition Disease (CPDCDD)
Chondrocalcinosis, also known as "pseudo gout" and sometimes "acute arthritis," is caused by CPD crystal-induced inflammation, and is nearly as common as "real" gout — which is caused by uric acid crystals. Like gout, it causes what many have described as excruciating pain when it flares up. CPDC stands for "calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals," and another name for chondrocalcinosis or psuedo gout is "calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystal deposition disease." (One only has to think of fireworks as pyrotechnics to sympathize with anyone who suffers from this!)
What Is It? CPDCDD is a condition that causes pain, redness, heat, and swelling in one or more joints, eventually resulting in damage to the affected joints (mostly those of the knees, thumbs, wrists, and the one between the pubic bones in the front of the pelvis). Sufferers will know at once what is meant by the "painful handshake," as one of the earliest symptoms is "arthritis" of the thumb joint and the knuckles of the first and second fingers. This telltale swelling is a classic manifestation, and if I had my way, the knuckles of every person afflicted with "arthritis" would be examined for possible hemochromatosis.
What Causes It? Deposits of calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals in a joint, which weaken the cartilage and cause it to break down more easily. The presence of these tiny CPDC crystals in the joints, and the body's reaction to these crystals, creates often agonizing inflammation as ‘A’ cells rush to attack the crystals. A fruitless exercise, as the crystals are indestructible, and, during one of the attempted A-cell rescue operations, they lose the battle — causing the patient’s immune system to be temporarily compromised, as a result.
Often dismissed as arthritis, CPDCDD has been reported by many homozygous people with whom I have worked (i.e. those who carry two genes) as having been the presenting symptom of the onset of hemochromatosis. Over the years I have learned, however, that that it is also possible for heterozygotes (persons carrying only one gene) to be afflicted. I have known some with knees so swollen that the fluid has had to be aspirated.
Physicians do not readily prescribe oral cortisone for the treatment of CPDCDD, but from my personal experience, I can tell you that an injection into an afflicted joint can work wonders!