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Diseases > Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition Disorder (CPPD) > What can I do about it?

What can I do about CPPD?

The first thing is don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Although you might have been diagnosed with CPPD, you are not alone. Luckily, there are effective treatments available. Even if they don’t cure CPPD, they can make living with the condition much more comfortable.

You should see your family doctor if you think you have CPPD. It can be a difficult disease to diagnose and your doctor might refer you to a rheumatologist. A rheumatologist is a specialist who is an expert in treating arthritis.

Here are some recommendations:

  • Learn as much as you can about this disease. Knowledge is power and we’ve aimed to develop this RheumInfo website so it’s easy to understand
  • Attend your doctor and/or rheumatologist appointments regularly
  • Learn about joint protection from a physiotherapist or occupational therapist
  • Take it easy – identify activities that flare your joint pain and do your best to avoid them
  • Learn about the medications used to treat CPPD. The RheumInfo website has many interactive and valuable tools to help you understand these medications and their impact on your disease

Treatment of CPPD

CPPD is a chronic disease that must be managed. People living with this disease can lead active and productive lives with the right kinds of treatment. There are a number of treatment options available, but it depends on how the form of CPPD. Medical therapy can help make living with CPPD much more comfortable and improve function and mobility.

Medications for CPPD

Your doctor will need to tailor your therapy to your specific needs. They should provide the medication options that will best address your symptoms.

For people with pseudogout symptoms, CPPD associated with OA, or even CPPD causing inflammation in tendons, cortisone injections can be very effective. This type of treatment can reduce the pain and swelling caused by CPPD. It can take up to 24 or 48 hours before you feel the effects of a cortisone injection. Once the effects set in, they can last for a few days to many months – it depends on the individual person and the condition being treated. Usually, cortisone injections are limited to 2 or 3 in a single joint per year. This can also be effective treatment when symptoms are more like OA (soreness and swelling in wrists and knees).

Regular use of low-dose oral prednisone can be effective in managing attacks of pseudogout in some people.

Attacks of pseudogout can sometimes be prevented with a medicine called colchicine. This medicine is often taken by people who have gout. The thing to remember with colchicine is that once you start taking it, you must continue to take it on a regular basis. Stopping this medicine can cause a new attack of pseudogout.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs are medications that reduce the inflammation caused by CPPD. They also help to reduce symptoms such as pain. NSAIDs can be used for people with pseudogout or CPPD that is associated with OA. NSAIDs are an important treatment option in cases where joints can’t be easily injected with cortisone. Some people may need to use NSAIDs on a more regular basis, depending on their level of symptoms and pain.

Non-prescription analgesic medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used to control pain. It has been shown to be safe when used even for long periods of time. For more severe pain, stronger medicines called opioids may be used.

For more information about specific medications used to treat CPPD, refer to the “pictopamphlets” in the Medications section of this website.

Exercises for CPPD

Physical therapy and exercise are an important part of your overall treatment plan. The right exercises can actually improve the pain and stiffness in your joints. They can also protect the joints by strengthening the muscles around them. You must be careful about the type of exercise and activities you do. Your level of activity will depend on what joints are affected and the severity of your disease.

Moderate stretching can help reduce pain and keep the joint flexible. Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming or bicycling works your heart and increases your overall fitness. It is also an important part of keeping a healthy weight. A trained arthritis physiotherapist can help design an exercise program tailored to you and your needs. He or she can also help you learn how to protect your joints at work and when exercising.

Read these useful articles on exercising with arthritis – many of the tips can also be applied to people with CPPD:

Natural or Home Remedies for CPPD

There are no known natural remedies or complementary therapies that have been proven to help CPPD in any significant way. However, it’s important to check with your doctor or rheumatologist to make sure that nothing interacts with your medication if you choose to use natural remedies or complementary therapies.

Diet for CPPD

Questions about diet and CPPD are very common. We all want to know what we can do to help ourselves. Can we change our diet to help our condition? Changing our diet gives us a sense of control over a disease which often seems to have a mind of its own.

Unfortunately, there is no diet that has been proven to significantly alter the course of CPPD. Eating well can help you keep a healthy weight, which helps to reduce the load on your weight-bearing joints including the hips and knees.

Alcohol and CPPD

Many of us like to share a glass of wine, a beer or a spirit from time to time. Unfortunately, due to the nature of CPPD, some people may turn to alcohol to help cope with the distress. Alcoholic beverages are not an effective treatment for CPPD. They can also interact with some medications.

Smoking and CPPD

Cigarette smoking, whether you have CPPD or not, has no positive effects on any aspect of your health. Smoking is recognized as a risk factor for heart disease. Many people who develop CPPD are older and have other conditions that increase their risk of heart disease. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. So, if you are a smoker with CPPD, quitting could be one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health.

Concluding Thoughts

Diagnosing CPPD can be challenging because this disease can mimic the symptoms of several more common arthritic diseases. It will often take an expert with experience, like a rheumatologist, to correctly identify the disease. Once diagnosed, it must be managed with medication and physical therapy immediately. CPPD is a chronic illness but with the right kinds of treatment, the outlook is good.