You have pain in a joint like you’ve never had before. It came on suddenly. Now it’s red and painful. You may have gout.
The No. 1 cause of inflammatory arthritis is better known as gout. Gout results from your body producing too much uric acid or not eliminating enough of it. Uric acid is a waste product your body naturally produces linked to the purines in certain foods. Purines are a common chemical substance found in food and drinks; some foods and beverages are much higher than others in the amount of purines they contain.
When you produce too much uric acid or your body doesn’t expel enough, crystals form in the uric acid in joints and soft tissue around them. These cause attacks of painful inflammation.
Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon and musculoskeletal specialist physicians at Urgently Ortho in Scottsdale, Arizona, help patients with painful gout. Whether it’s your first gout attack or a flare-up, we’re here to help ease your pain and treat your condition.
Gout often attacks the largest joint in your big toe. However, it can also attack the foot, ankle knees, hands, or wrists. Intense pain, redness, and swelling can start with no warning, although you may have warning signs of an impending attack. If you start to feel tingling, burning, or itching in a joint, your body is giving you a warning signal that a flare-up is imminent.
The American College of Rheumatology released gout management guidelines in 2012 and updated them in 2020. They recommend drugs classified as urate-lowering therapy for those who have experienced two or more gout attacks in a year as well as for those with joint damage from gout.
Specifically, the organization recommends allopurinol as a first-line treatment for all gout patients, even those with chronic kidney disease. Next in line is febuxostat; both are a class of drugs called xanthine oxidase inhibitors.
In addition, the guidelines recommend use of anti-inflammatory medications including NSAIDs, prednisone, or colchicine along with the other medication.
You can do several things at home to ease gout inflammation. Your physician at Urgently Ortho provides guidelines. Try the following remedies.
Use an ice pack on the join for 20 minutes several times a day to help reduce inflammation. A caveat: If you have nerve issues from diabetes or other source, avoid using ice on your hands and feet.
As with other inflammatory conditions, resting and elevating the joint is helpful. Place the painful toe or hand on a soft pillow and raise it above your heart.
Make sure your uric acid levels are in the normal range; when you don’t drink enough water, they’re elevated. Drink eight glasses of water per day.
Other steps you can take to relieve gout and help prevent attacks involve lifestyle changes:
You’d probably never heard of purines before you had gout. Some foods that you may consume frequently could be the culprits in your gout attacks because they’re high in purines and raise your level of uric acid. You should limit red meat and organ meats like liver, shellfish, and some legumes like peas and dried beans, as they’re associated with raising uric acid levels. Research foods that are low in purines, or follow a Mediterranean diet.