Gout is a common health condition that can affect a diverse range of people, however, that doesn’t make it any less painful or difficult to have to live with. An attack of gout can occur suddenly, often waking you up in the middle of the night with the sensation that your affected joint is on fire. The area will be hot, swollen and so tender that even the weight of the bedsheet on it may seem intolerable.
Gout symptoms may come and go, but there are ways to manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups.
What is Gout?
Gout is a form of arthritis that most commonly occurs in the big toe, but can also affect ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, fingers, or other toes. It is characterised by sudden and intense pain in the affected joint, which often occurs during the night.
Gout Signs and Symptoms
Sufferers of gout experience sudden and intense joint pain, swelling, redness, tenderness, and a hot sensation in the affected area. The most severe pain is experienced within the first 12 hours, however after this subsides, discomfort can linger in the joint for up to a few weeks, and after an extended period of time, mobility in the joint may become limited.
Symptoms can flare up and subside over time. ‘Flares’ can last for a few days or up to a few weeks, and are then followed by ‘remissions’, during which people can experience weeks, months, or even years without any symptoms until another flare occurs.
Causes of Gout
Gout affects people who have a high level of uric acid in their body. This is known as hyperuricemia and can cause a buildup of uric acid crystals (monosodium urate) in joints, fluids and tissues. Uric acid is produced by the body during the breakdown of purines, which are substances found naturally in the body, and some foods.
When the body’s uric acid levels are higher, so are its chances of developing gout. People at higher risk of Gout include those who crash diet, drink excessively, have obesity, men aged 30 – 50, those with a family history and those on certain medications including diuretics and hypertension preventatives.
Many people with hyperuricemia won’t develop gout, and in these cases, treatment is not needed. However, those who do develop gout should seek treatment.
Treatment and Prognosis
There is no cure for gout, however, it can easily be treated with medications and other strategies. Gout symptoms can be reduced by making lifestyle changes including decreasing both your consumption of alcohol as well as foods containing fructose and purines, and making an effort to improve your overall health by generally eating more healthily, drinking enough water, and exercising regularly in ways that are gentle on joints, such as walking, cycling or swimming.
Doctors and specialists can devise a treatment plan for you that incorporates these lifestyle adjustments and other medical treatments such as drugs that reduce pain and inflammation and decrease levels of uric acid in the body. They may also recommend changing or discontinuing the use of current medications if they are known to increase uric acid levels.
When it comes to treating gout, there are many options. Talk to a medical practitioner to figure out the treatment plan that best suits you.
At ProMed Podiatry, We’re in the business of keeping feet healthy! If you need advice, Call us today at (07) 5522 1230 or book an appointment online.