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Pseudogout is also known by another name: calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate deposition disease (CPPD), the basis of which is derived from the calcium deposits that collect in the joint. The deposits or crystals, as they are sometimes called, cause pain and inflammation in the joint. According to the Arthritis Foundation, this can eventually weaken the cartilage, which serves as padding between the bones, "allowing bone to rub against bone." Pseudogout typically affects the large joints, such as the knees, wrists, and ankles. In general, it occurs with equal frequency in men and women.

Most often seen in older adults, pseudogout can also affect younger patients, especially those with diseases that put them at a greater risk of developing it, such as hemochromatosis, hypercalcemia, hypothyroidism, ochronosis, or Wilson's disease. Some people, according to an article for the American College of Rheumatology, experience attacks of pseudogout "following joint surgery or other surgery. Because many older people have calcium crystal deposits in their joints, any kind of insult to the joint can trigger the release of the calcium crystals, which then induce a painful inflammatory response." Pseudogout affects about 3% of elderly people. Not all will experience severe attacks. By their nineties, 50% of people will have joint deposits. Although researchers have noticed that some people with pseudogout also have a family history of the disease, it is not clear what role genetics might play in its development.

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