How Long Does Gout Last
Discover here how long your gout attack can last for and who is at risk of longer gout attacks. Then discover how to prevent them.
Generally speaking, an attack of gout can last anywhere from 3 to 21 days, sometimes even longer. 7 to 10 days could be the average for most people.
But a lot depends on how quickly it is diagnosed, how quickly treatment is started, the type of treatment used, and its location in the body.
But there are also other determinants for how long a gout attack can last. For example, gout may last longer in:
- folks with certain underlying medical conditions
- and even some medications
The big toe is the most common location for gout, but you can also get gout in the knee, the ankle, hand, and so on. Basically any location where uric acid crystals can accumulate
You see, the common denominator in gout is high uric acid blood levels a condition called hyperuricemia. This condition can then lead to the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints. Its generally assumed that high uric acid is anything over 6 mg/dl. However, it has been known for some people to have levels over 9.0 mg/dl and not suffer from gout. Equally, gout has been known in patients with levels as low as 6 mg/dl. Much depends on the individual. But, as a general rule of thumb, maintaining your levels below 6 mg/dl is a good target.
What Treatments Are Available For Big Toe Arthritis
Generally, simple treatments for big toe arthritis are effective at reducing pain. Firstly, changing footwear to a stiff or rocker-soled shoe can help. Silicon gel pads can cushion pressure on shoes. Orthotics can improve the mechanics of the foot. Secondly, anti-inflammatory treatment such as ice and topical Voltarol gel reduces swelling. Sometimes, anti-inflammatory tablets such as ibuprofen are also needed. Finally, calf stretching and strengthening exercises can help with reducing the abnormal forces on the joint.
In cases that fail simple treatment, a cortisone injection in big toe joint may help.
How Is Gout In The Ankle Diagnosed
If you think you might have gout but havent been diagnosed, try to see a doctor while youre having symptoms. Gout is easier to diagnose when youre in the middle of a flare-up thats causing swelling, redness, and other visible symptoms.
During your appointment, your doctor will likely ask you several questions about your diet, any medications you take, and whether you have a family history of gout. This can help to rule out other potential causes of your symptoms, including an infection or rheumatoid arthritis.
Your doctor may also order a blood test to check your uric acid levels. But some people have high levels of uric acid and dont develop gout. Others have typical uric acid levels but still develop gout. As a result, theyll want to do some other tests as well.
An X-ray, MRI, or CT scan of your ankle can also help to eliminate other possible causes of joint inflammation. Depending on your exam, they may also order an ultrasound to check for the presence of crystals in your ankle.
Finally, they might do a joint fluid test. This involves taking a small sample of joint fluid from your ankle with a small needle and looking at it under a microscope for any uric acid crystals.
Based on the results of your exam and tests, they may refer you to an inflammatory arthritis specialist called a rheumatologist for treatment.
Theres no cure for gout, but a combination of medications and home treatments can help to manage ankle pain and reduce the number of flare-ups you have.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Gout
Any joint can be affected by gout, but it usually affects joints towards the ends of the limbs, such as the toes, ankles, knees and fingers.
Signs and symptoms of gout include:
- severe pain in one or more joints
- the joint feeling hot and very tender
- swelling in and around the affected joint
- red, shiny skin over the affected joint
Symptoms develop rapidly over a few hours and typically last three to 10 days. After this time the pain should pass and the joint should return to normal.
Almost everyone with gout will experience further attacks at some point, usually within a year.
Read more about the complications of gout.
Where Does A Gout Attack Occur
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.
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Ways To Deal With Painful Gout Attacks
Its difficult to focus on work or other daily activities when youre experiencing gout inflammation and pain. Symptoms can last for a few days or even weeks, with the worst pain usually occurring in the first day or two.
While the best thing to do is talk to your physician, there are several steps you can take right away ease your gout symptoms:
Excess uric acid in the bloodstream can lead to the formation of uric acid crystals in one or more joints, resulting in gout.Read:All About Gout – Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
What Happens At Your Appointment
The GP may ask about your diet and if you drink alcohol.
They may refer you to see a specialist and arrange a blood test and scan. Sometimes a thin needle is used to take a sample of fluid from inside the affected joint, to test it.
The blood test will find out how much of a chemical called uric acid there is in your blood.
Having too much uric acid in your blood can lead to crystals forming around your joints, which causes pain.
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Joints Affected By Gout
Gout can affect any joint, but some joints are more likely to be affected than others. Joints commonly affected include the big toe, the foots instep, heel, ankle, and knee.2 Less often, gout affects the elbow, wrist, fingertips, or spine.2–7
Gout is acute, painful swelling in the joints from uric acid buildup. Common areas include the foot and big toe.
Symptoms And Signs Of Gout In Foot
An attack of gout is often sudden. Symptoms:
- It may present with excruciatingly painful swelling of joints in the big toe, it is known as Podagra. The joint may be stiff and appear red or purple, very swollen, and tender to even light touch. Other gout sites include the instep, wrist, ankle, fingers, and knee.
- Skin may peel and itch as healing begins.
- An attack often begins at night the acute phase lasts up to 12 hours. If untreated, the inflammation may last up to two weeks. In 10 percent of people, acute episodes present in more than one joint.
- Kidney stones precede the onset of gout in 14 percent of patients.
- Chronic gout may develop, and it may affect more than one joint, mimicking rheumatoid arthritis.
- Tophi are soft tissue swellings caused by urate buildup in chronic gout. They may be found in the ear, fingers, toes, kneecap, and elbow.
Some people have a single attack of gout, others are affected intermittently, often when they have overindulged or experienced dehydration.
COMPLICATIONS OF GOUT IN FOOT
Its rare for complications of gout to develop, but they do happen and can include severe degenerative arthritis, secondary infections, kidney stones and kidney damage, nerve or spinal cord impingement, and joint fractures.
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Uric Acid Is The Cause
When there is an overabundance of uric acid in the blood it is called gout. Usually, having too much uric acid in the blood is not harmful. In fact many people with high levels in their blood never know about it. When uric acid levels in the blood become extremely high, the uric acid may start to form crystals. These crystals most commonly form in the joints, especially the joints in the big toe. Your odds of experiencing the pain of gout are higher if you are overweight, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or have a diet that is comprised of meat and fish that are high in chemicals called purines.
Causes And Risk Factors
Gout occurs due to an excess buildup of uric acid, or hyperuricemia.
According to the National Institutes of Health , hyperuricemia is the main risk factor for developing gout. However, a quarter of those with hyperuricemia do not develop gout.
When the body breaks down purines, it produces uric acid. Typically, the kidneys remove a certain amount of uric acid in the urine. However, when they are unable to remove enough uric acid, uric acid crystals can form in the joints and soft tissues, causing swelling and pain.
Gout typically affects males more than females. However, females have higher levels of uric acid after menopause. NIAMS state that being older also the chance of developing gout.
Genetics can also increase the chance of developing gout.
According to the CDC , other factors that may increase the likelihood of gout include:
- Diet: Food can play a role in the development of gout symptoms. Eating seafood, red meat, and drinking alcohol raises uric acid levels in the body.
- Weight: Having overweight increases the chance of developing gout.
- Medications: Certain medications, including diuretics and low-dose aspirin, are associated with gout risk because they increase the level of uric acid in the body.
- Other medical conditions:High blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease can increase gout risk.
According to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, some people with gout may develop complications, such as:
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What Are The Symptoms Of Gout In The Ankle
The main symptom of gout in the ankle is pain and discomfort in the surrounding area. Keep in mind that gout is often unpredictable, regardless of the joint its affecting. You might go weeks or even months without any symptoms, only to wake up with a burning pain in your ankle.
In some cases, gout starts out in one of your big toes before moving on to other areas, such as your ankle. Over time, these flare-ups may last longer than they previously did.
Other symptoms you might feel from gout in your ankle include:
What Are The Symptoms Of Gout
An episode of gout is called a gout attack. Gout attacks are very painful and can happen quite suddenly, often overnight. During a gout attack, symptoms in the affected joint may include:
- Intense pain.
- Tenderness, even to light touch, such as from a bedsheet.
- Warmth, or a feeling like the joint is on fire.
- How long does a gout attack last?
A gout attack can last a week or two. Between gout attacks, you may have no symptoms at all.
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Know Which Foods Cause Gout Attacks
Third, whether you are taking medicine or not, you will have to make changes in your diet in order to reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. You should learn and note which items in your diet cause flare-ups, and avoid foods that cause gout symptoms to manifest. Avoiding these foods that cause gout is far easier than enduring another flare up.
Some of the foods that are known to cause gout include:
- sugary soft drinks
What Can Trigger A Gout Attack
Several things can cause the crystals to shake loose into your joint cavity, triggering an attack. These include:
- a knock or injury to the joint
- an illness that may make you feverish
- having an operation
- having an unusually large meal, especially a fatty meal
- drinking too much alcohol
- starting urate lowering therapy, especially at a high dose, or not taking your treatment regularly each day.
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What Can Increase Your Risk
A high level of uric acid in the blood is the main factor that increases your risk of developing gout. However, it’s still uncertain why some people with a high level of uric acid in the blood develop gout, while others with an equally high level don’t.
Other factors that may increase your risk of developing gout are outlined below.
Why Do Some People Develop Arthritis In Big Toe
We see big toe arthritis in people with abnormal mechanics of the foot. In particular, a long or elevated big toe can lead to abnormal forces on the joint and early arthritis. Other factors leading to arthritis include a past break or injury, wearing poorly-fitting shoes, or arthritis disorders such as gout.
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Who Is At Risk For Gout
Anyone can be affected by gout.
Gout is most common in middle-aged men, especially those with a family history of the disease. Women can get gout, too, most often after menopause.
Your chances of developing gout are higher if you:
- Are overweight
- Drink too much alcohol, especially beer
- Eat a diet rich in meat and fish, which can be high in chemicals called purines
- Take certain medicines, like water pills , that can trigger an attack
Recent research also indicates that genetics may play a big role in determining who gets gout. Ask your doctor if you have questions about your risk for developing this condition.
Stage : Intercritical Gout
After a first gout flare, 75 percent of people will have a second within a year but some people can go years before another attack, says Dr. Fields. The in-between stage is where a person has already had a gout flare but is presently not having any joint pain or swelling, he says. Almost all gout patients will go through this phase, since it is the nature of gout to have flares and then quiet down for a period of time before the next flare.
Even though it may seem like nothing is happening, this is the point in which patients should begin long-term treatment. Lowering uric acid levels with medication can prevent future gout flares and long-term complications that go with them.
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How Uric Acid Crystals Form
The build-up of uric acid crystals begins with purines, a chemical compound found in many foods.
- When the body metabolizes purines, it produces a substance called uric acid.
- The uric acid enters the bloodstream.
- The kidneys filter the blood and normally filter out excess uric acid. This uric acid is then excreted via urine or stool .10
- If the kidneys cannot adequately filter out excess uric acid, or if the body produces too much uric acid, there will be too much uric acid in the bloodstream.
- Too much uric acid in the bloodstream is called hyperuricemia.
- In some people, hyperuricemia leads to the formation of uric acid crystals that collect in joint tissue, leading to painful symptoms.
An inability to adequately process and excrete uric acid accounts for an estimated 90% of gout cases.9 Other cases occur because a body produces too much uric acid.
Gout Attack Vs Chronic Gout
It is possible to have a gout flare-up and never experience another. Repeated instances of acute gout are called chronic gout17.
The treatment goals for a gout attack are different than those for chronic gout. When treating a gout attack, the goal is to relieve pain and inflammation. When treating chronic gout, the goal is to prevent future gout attacks and long-term joint damage.
While some people with chronic gout may get frequent gout attacks, others may have years in between attacks. If chronic gout is not treated, attacks may become more frequent and/or last longer.
Left untreated, a gout attack will usually resolve itself within a few days or weeks. Chronic gout can permanently damage a joints tissues and decrease its range of motion. For this reason, it is important to recognize symptoms, understand risk factors, get an accurate diagnosis, and treat and prevent gout.
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When To Get Help For A Gout Flare
It’s always a good idea to let your doctor know that you are having a flare. Sometimes, you may need to follow up to make sure your treatment plan is working or if your symptoms don’t improve. Call your doctor if:
This is your first flare-up. There are several other conditions, such as a joint infection, that have some of the same symptoms as gout attacks.
You have a highfever and chills. Gout attack symptoms may include a mild fever, but a higher temperature may be a sign of an infection.
Your symptoms don’t get any better after 48 hours or don’t end after about a week. If you don’t start to feel somewhat better after a few days, call your doctor. They may suggest a different treatment. Most gout attacks will go away by themselves in several weeks, even without treatment.
Take Your Prescription Drugs
If you’ve had a gout attack before, your physician may have prescribed drugs to treat attacks. This may be your first line of defense or you may decide to use them only when NSAIDs fail to relieve your pain.
Prescription medications to treat gout include:
- Prednisolone oral tablets, which has been shown to work as well as NSAIDs and often doesnt cause the same stomach upset. Prednisolone is a type of corticosteroid and does carry other potential side effects, particularly if it is taken for longer than the recommended 5 days.4
- Colchicine, which has been shown effective in reducing pain and inflammation if taken in the first 24 hours of an attack. Always follow your physicians instructions regarding dosing to decrease your risk for potential complications and side effects.
Opioid painkillers, such as codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, are not recommended to treat the pain caused by gout.
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