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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.