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Magnesium Deficiency and Pseudogout

By Carole Anne Tomlinson

The University of Maryland Medical Center says having a deficiency of magnesium in your body rarely occurs. If you drink a lot of alcohol, you might suffer from such a deficiency. You also might have your normal levels of magnesium depleted because of certain types of medications or following surgical procedures. Typically, such a deficiency can be rectified through magnesium supplements or, in severe cases, through intravenous infusion. A deficiency of magnesium can potentially produce a bout of pseudogout because of magnesium's effects on calcium absorption by your body. Speak with your physician before you take a magnesium supplement.

The Basics

Pseudogout was so named because the condition produces similar symptoms to traditional gouty arthritis. Gout itself occurs because uric acid builds up in some people’s bodies, forming crystalline structures in the joints of the feet. These sharp crystals irritate the joints and cause inflammation, redness and pain. Pseudogout works the same way, except that it forms from calcium crystals. The modern name of pseudogout, calcium pyrophosphate deposition, more accurately describes the problem. If you have an excess of the mineral calcium in your body, it can essentially pool and get stuck in your joints, usually in one knee or the other. It then inflames the joint and produces pain.

Calcium

You have more calcium in your body than any other mineral under normal circumstances. It affects most body systems, including the muscles, bones and teeth. You typically eat calcium when you ingest dairy products and other foods. If you take multivitamins, you also get extra calcium in your body. Post-menopausal women particularly need more calcium to help strengthen their bones against osteoporosis, a disease that makes their bones brittle. Too much calcium, however, can cause side effects, including pseudogout.

Magnesium

Magnesium also is a common mineral your body needs to function. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that the mineral helps your muscles work properly and helps produce protein in your body, among other functions. Magnesium also helps regulate the amount of calcium at work in your body. A deficiency of magnesium can cause an overabundance of calcium to exist in your system.

Solutions

Your physician will need to work with you to get your magnesium levels back to normal. She might recommend a magnesium supplement or might need to infuse the mineral into your body intravenously. At the same time, she will need to treat your pseudogout symptoms. This usually will entail the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, either sold over the counter or by prescription. She also might try another medicine called colchicine, which helps break up the calcium crystals and relieve inflammation. Both of these types of drugs also are common treatments for gout. If you have a severe pseudogout problem, your doctor might decide to drain fluid from your knee joints to help relieve the pressure there, then prescribe corticosteroid medicine to reduce the inflammation.

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