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What is Chondrocalcinosis?

Chondrocalcinosis is a medical condition characterized by the accumulation of calcium pyrophosphate crystals in joint cartilage, leading to pain and swelling, often mistaken for arthritis. It's a journey through the body's complex systems, where tiny crystals have a big impact. Intrigued? See how these microscopic invaders can affect your joints, complete with vivid imagery to illuminate the story. What might your joints be telling you?
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Chondrocalcinosis is a joint disease characterized by the deposition of calcium crystals in the soft tissues of a joint. Patients with this disease experience joint pain that can sometimes be acute in nature. Treatment options vary depending on the joint involved and the level of pain the patient is experiencing. The most common place for chondrocalcinosis to develop is the knee joint.

This condition is a form of calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate disease (CPPD). To be considered chondrocalcinosis, streaks of calcium must be clearly visible in a medical imaging study like an X-ray. Patients may report for treatment because they are experiencing episodes of acute pain caused by wear and tear from the calcium crystals, or because their joints appear to have low-level chronic inflammation.

X-rays of the knees may be taken in order to diagnose chondrocalcinosis.
X-rays of the knees may be taken in order to diagnose chondrocalcinosis.

Symptoms can include joint stiffness, joint pain, limited range of motion in a joint, and heat or swelling indicative of inflammation. If a patient is not experiencing pain, a doctor may recommend simply resting the joint. For patients in pain, anti-inflammatory drugs can be provided to reduce the swelling, although long term use of such drugs can come with side effects that endanger the patient.

A knee brace may help treat discomfort associated with chondrocalcinosis.
A knee brace may help treat discomfort associated with chondrocalcinosis.

For some patients, this condition is genetic. If there is a family history of CPPD, a patient may develop the condition or other forms of CPPD, such as pseudogout. Other patients develop the condition as a result of a metabolic disorder that interferes with the processes the body uses to clear waste materials, forcing those waste materials to build up in locations like the joints. In sporadic chondrocalcinosis, there is no clear cause for the calcium deposition.

Treatment for chondrocalcinosis may include medication.
Treatment for chondrocalcinosis may include medication.

Diagnosis can involve a physical exam, patient history, and medical imaging study of the joint. In chondrocalcinosis, the calcium deposits are clearly visible and follow-ups, such as biopsy of the joint, are not generally needed. The doctor may recommend periodic follow up examinations and imaging studies to monitor the progress of the calcium deposition and the patient can be provided with medications to treat intermittent outbreaks of pain and inflammation.

Physical therapy may be helpful for individuals suffering with chondrocalcinosis.
Physical therapy may be helpful for individuals suffering with chondrocalcinosis.

Resting the joint can be helpful, as can providing joint support such as a brace. Some patients experience success with dietary modifications, physical therapy, and other treatment modalities. Patients can discuss their options for treating and managing this joint condition with their doctors to get advice and recommendations. One option to consider is enrollment in a clinical trial testing new treatments for chondrocalcinosis and other joint disorders.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a TheHealthBoard researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon1005530

I was just diagnosed with this in my left knee. I've never had an issues before until I sustained two forceful injuries. I assumed it was that. But it doesn't say that injury can precipitate it. Weird.

Sara007

@letshearit - I don't think you are taking away from your mother and brother's condition at all. There is nothing wrong with trying to protect yourself from a clearly hereditary disease. Especially one as painful as chondrocalcinosis.

My grandmother suffers from chondrocalcinosis and I have made a point of trying to change my diet to avoid things that are known to make chondrocalcinosis worse. A good thing for you to do if you are worried is to avoid eating anything heavy in purine. This means no organ meats and you can say goodbye to enjoying alcohol.

I think that if you are really series about changing your lifestyle, it is no different than someone eating well so that they can avoid a family history of something like diabetes.

letshearit

My mother and brother both suffer from chondrocalcinosis and I am worried that I may be next because of its tendency to run in families. With both of my immediate family members suffering from this condition I am really concerned that if I don't do something I may end up in the same kind of joint pain they have.

Do you think that if I changed my diet I might be able to avoid developing chondrocalcinosis? Is my future set in stone?

I don't want to seem like I am taking away from what my family members have gone though, but I just don't want to have through all of the medical issues they have.

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    • X-rays of the knees may be taken in order to diagnose chondrocalcinosis.
      By: naypong
      X-rays of the knees may be taken in order to diagnose chondrocalcinosis.
    • A knee brace may help treat discomfort associated with chondrocalcinosis.
      By: Gennadiy Poznyakov
      A knee brace may help treat discomfort associated with chondrocalcinosis.
    • Treatment for chondrocalcinosis may include medication.
      By: VIPDesign
      Treatment for chondrocalcinosis may include medication.
    • Physical therapy may be helpful for individuals suffering with chondrocalcinosis.
      By: Tyler Olson
      Physical therapy may be helpful for individuals suffering with chondrocalcinosis.
    • Chondrocalcinosis commonly causes pain in the knee.
      By: WavebreakMediaMicro
      Chondrocalcinosis commonly causes pain in the knee.