Gout Signs And Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of gout almost always occur suddenly, and often at night. Gout is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in one or more joints, most often in your big toe.
The symptoms of gout include:
- Intense pain in a joint, which can be quite severe. Gout usually affects your big toe, but it can occur in any joint. Other commonly affected joints include the ankles, knees, elbows, wrists and fingers. The pain is likely to be most severe within the first four to 12 hours after it begins.
- Lingering discomfort. After the most severe pain subsides, some joint discomfort may last from a few days to a few weeks. Later attacks are likely to last longer and affect more joints.
- Inflammation and redness. The affected joint or joints become swollen, tender, warm and red.
- Restricted movement of the joint. As gout progresses, you may not be able to move your joints normally.
Signs of gout include
In over three quarters of people with gout, their first ever episode tends to be in the big toe. The typical signs include:
- Severe pain in the joint
- Swollen joint
- Red or hot joint
An attack of gout can occur suddenly, often waking you up in the middle of the night with the sensation that your big toe is on fire. The affected joint is hot, swollen and so tender that even the weight of the bedsheet on it may seem intolerable. These symptoms usually develop rapidly and can last for 1 to 2 weeks.
Medicines For Gout Prevention And Complications
Your doctor can prescribe medicines that can help keep a healthy level of uric acid in your body, which can prevent future gout attacks and the complications from gout. When you have gout, your body either makes too much uric acid, or cannot get rid of enough of it, which causes it to build up. Some medicines are safe to take when you have kidney disease, but some are not. Talk to your doctor about which medicines are safe for you.
Allopurinol is a medicine for people who make too much uric acid. It is the most common medicine used to treat chronic gout. Your doctor can tell you if allopurinol is safe for you to take if you have kidney disease.
Probenecid is a medicine that works for people who cannot get rid of enough uric acid. It works to remove extra uric acid through your urine. Probenecid can increase your risk of kidney stones. Probenecid is not safe to take for many people with kidney disease, so talk to your doctor for more information about probenecid.
Pegloticase is an infusion medicine given by injection into your vein at your doctors office, usually every two weeks. It is used for severe chronic gout when other medicines do not work. Pegloticase can quickly bring your uric acid level down to a lower level than most medicines can. Talk to your doctor about whether pegloticase is safe for you.
How Is It Taken
Allopurinol is taken as a tablet once a day. It is usually better to take it just after eating and the tablet should be swallowed with water. It is important to drink plenty of water during the day because this will help you get rid of more urate through your kidneys.
Your dose of allopurinol may change over time, depending on the amount of urate in your body. Your doctor will monitor your urate levels with blood tests every 2-4 weeks, until they are sure that the dose that youre taking is high enough to reduce the amount of urate in your body.
You may need to remain on a lower dose if you have kidney or liver problems.
Your doctor may recommend that you do not start taking allopurinol until after an attack of gout has passed to avoid triggering further attacks. If this is not possible, it may be started when your inflammation is not too bad.
Allopurinol doesnt treat the immediate pain caused by attacks of gout. But its a long-term treatment to get rid of the urate crystals which causes gout attacks.
It is likely that you will need to take allopurinol for the rest of your life to manage your urate levels. You should keep taking allopurinol even if:
- you are experiencing more gout attacks, or it doesnt seem to help the pain and inflammation at first
- you stop having gout attacks stopping your treatment can cause urate crystals to form again, which will lead to more gout attacks.
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What Is The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of Gout
Medications for acute gout attack: These medications are usually prescribed to treat an acute attack of gout:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs : These can quickly relieve the pain and swelling of an acute gout episode. They can shorten the attack, especially if taken in the first 24 hours.
- Corticosteroids: These drugs can be taken by mouth or injected into an inflamed joint to quickly relieve the pain and swelling of an acute attack. Corticosteroids usually start working within 24 hours after they are taken.
- Colchicine: An anti-inflammatory medicine that works best if taken within the first 24 hours of a gout attack.
Medications for reducing uric acid levels: These are usually prescribed after an acute attack ends to reduce uric acid levels in the body to prevent future attacks.
- Colchicine: Regular and low doses of colchicine may be given along with other medications below to prevent flare-ups.
- Allopurinol: It reduces uric acid production in the body.
- : It reduces uric acid production in the body.
- Probenecid: It acts on the kidneys to help eliminate uric acid.
- Pegloticase: This is a medication that is injected every 2 weeks. It reduces uric acid quickly and used when other medications fail.
Lifestyle and home remedies to treat acute gout and can prevent recurrent attacks:
- Limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption and drinks sweetened with fructose
- Limiting intake of foods high in purines, such as red meat, organ meats, and seafood
- Drinking plenty of fluids
Risk Factors For Developing Gout
Youre more likely to develop gout if you have high levels of uric acid in your body. Factors that increase the uric acid level in your body include:
Gout is more common in men than in women, and among women its more common after menopause. Its more likely to occur in older people, but can affect anyone.
It can also affect people with certain types of blood disorder and people in treatment for cancer.
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When Is Surgery Considered For Gout
The question of surgery for gout most commonly comes up when a patient has a large clump of urate crystals , which is causing problems. This may be if the tophus is on the bottom of the foot, and the person has difficulty walking on it, or on the side of the foot making it hard to wear shoes. An especially difficult problem is when the urate crystals inside the tophus break out to the skin surface. This then can allow bacteria a point of entry, which can lead to infection, which could even track back to the bone. Whenever possible, however, we try to avoid surgery to remove tophi. The problem is that the crystals are often extensive, and track back to the bone, so there is not a good healing surface once the tophus is removed. In some rare cases, such as when a tophus is infected or when its location is causing major disability, surgical removal may be considered.
Since it is hard to heal the skin after a tophus is removed, a skin graft may be needed. For this reason, we often try hard to manage the tophus medically. If we give high doses of medication to lower the urate level, such as allopurinol, over time the tophus will gradually reabsorb. In severe cases, we may consider using the intravenous medication pegloticase , since it lowers the urate level the most dramatically, and can lead to the fastest shrinkage of the tophus.
Treating Hyperuricemia During Tophus Formation
- Probenecid Taken orally, this medication increases the kidneys ability to remove uric acid from the body. It is not recommended if there is a history of kidney stones or renal impairment. Two brand names are Benemid® and Probalan®.
Often, medications are prescribed in combination. For example, probenecid, which blocks uric acid production, can be added to allopurinol or febuxostat, which helps the kidneys eliminate uric acid in urine. Physicians can also add 500-1,000 mg of vitamin C, which can aid in eliminating uric acid. If a patient is already on a diuretic, then they may be switched to another to help uric acid elimination.
Some side-effects from probenecid may occur that usually do not need medical attention. They are: chills, heartburn, cough, diarrhea, fever, general feeling of discomfort or illness, loss of appetite and joint pain. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Always check with your patient to see if any side effects are bothersome.
If pain medication needs to be adjusted, the following standard medications could be prescribed:
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Management Of Gout: Update From The American College Of Rheumatology
Key Points for Practice
During a second gout flare-up in one year, low-dose allopurinol can be started with anti-inflammatory therapy without worsening the flare-up.
Allopurinol is the preferred urate-lowering agent, but HLA testing should be offered to patients of Southeast Asian or African American descent before starting to identify patients at risk for an allergic reaction.
Titrating urate-lowering therapy to reach a serum urate level of 6 mg per dL decreases flare-ups and increases treatment adherence.
During acute flare-ups, low-dose colchicine, NSAIDs, and glucocorticoids delivered orally, intramuscularly, or intra-articularly are similarly effective.
From the AFP Editors
Although effective medications exist to prevent and treat acute flare-ups, gout remains the most common inflammatory arthritis in the United States. Urate-lowering therapy is underused despite previous recommendations from the American College of Rheumatology . The ACR published updated guidelines for gout management focused on improving prevention of flare-ups.
What To Do When You Have A Gout Flare
While an individual Gout episode is conceivable, Dr. Saag adds that ânormally once Gout occurs, youll require ongoing medication to maintain it.â If you dont take frequent uric-acid-lowering medicine or find another means to decrease youruric acid levels, cutting back on alcohol, decreasing your bodyweight, and avoiding high purine meals may help.
Youll likely have shorter intervals between Gout flare-ups over time, he says. âGout develops into chronic arthritis, which may be very disabling.â
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What Is Normal Uric Acid Level
- Normal values range between 3.5 to 7.2 milligrams per deciliter .
- Normal urine uric acid levels range from 250 to 750 milligrams per 24 hours .
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Normal serum urate levels do not exclude the diagnosis of gout. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
How To Get Rid Of Gout
Are you experiencing joint pain, especially in your toes or feet? Is there pain when you walk after sitting or when you wake up? If these are some things that you are experiencing, you might have a condition known as gout.
In the United States, there are around 9 million people who are affected by gout. It also affects men more than women. So, how do you get rid of gout?
In this article, well explain what gout is, what causes it and list the symptoms and treatment options. Its best to talk to a physician to establish a treatment plan as it is a condition that can be chronic and recurrent.
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What Does A Gout Attack Look And Feel Like What Would A Foot Or Toe With Gout Look Like
When gout occurs, the joint tends to be extremely painful and is warm, red and swollen . The inflammation that is part of a gout attack is systemic, so that fever and chills, fatigue and malaise are not uncommonly part of the picture of a gout attack.
Figure 6: Toe with Acute Attack of Gout
Gout attacks can occur in joints that look normal, or in joints that have easily visible deposits of uric acid. These deposits are called tophi and can be in numerous locations, but especially on the feet and elbows. In Figure 9, the little finger of the right hand is bandaged since fluid was just removed from it, which demonstrated innumerable uric acid crystals.
Figure 7a: Tophi on Foot
Figure 7b: Tophus Over Achilles’ Tendon
Figure 8: Tophus on Elbow
Figure 9: Tophi on Hands
Figure 10: Large Tophus of Finger
While some gout attacks will solve quickly by themselves, the majority will go on for a week, several weeks, or even longer if not treated. Since gout attacks are usually quite painful and often make walking difficult, most gout sufferers will request specific treatment for their painful condition.
My Recent Gout Attack
I had a Gout attack September 05, 2021. This attack was very disabling. I was bed bound for more than 2 weeks. Majority of the days I was not able to get off the bed to even open my room door, as the pain was in both of my knees and ankles.
I must assure you that this can be a very crippling and scary moment, especially if you are living alone. It was really difficult for me to move around and do anything whatsoever. There were days when I could not even have a shower because I just could not walk.
The intensity of the pain can be unbearable at times but what can You do. The medications do not seem to help ease the pain sometimes. This is the kind of pain that I would not wish on my worst enemy.
If youve had gout before or not, youll know somethings amiss when it flares up: Its difficult to ignore the intense pain and swelling that frequently develops in a single joint .
If youve never experienced Gout and think others who have it are exaggerating, then look at this study: 37% of patients with Gout would gladly give up a winning lottery ticket if they never had to endure another gout flare.
Of course, making such a compromise isnt an option. So, what are your real-life options? The greatest thing you can do is call your doctor right away. â As soon as you feel a twinge, you should seek medical attention,â advises Joseph Huffstutter, MD, of Arthritis Associates in Hixson, Tennessee. âThe simpler it is to treat a gout attack the sooner you treat it.â
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Foods That Cause Gout
Purines are a natural substance found in some foods. Purines arent all bad, but you want to avoid high amounts. When your body digests purine, it produces a waste product called uric acid. A buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints can cause certain health issues. The main ones are kidney stones and a type of arthritis known as gout.
Foods which you should try to avoid having large quantities of include:
- red meat and offal such as liver, kidneys and heart
- seafood, especially shellfish, scallops, mussels, herring, mackerel, sardines and anchovies
- foods containing yeast such as Vegemite, Marmite, Bovril, and beer
Drinking too much alcohol, especially beers and spirits, may increase urate levels.
People react to food in different ways. Over time, you will learn what foods affect you. You might find that certain foods make your gout or other health issues affected by high purine levels flare up. This practice allows you to avoid those foods and enjoy others.
A low-purine diet can reduce your symptoms. However, dietary changes alone do not get rid of gout and similar medical conditions. Its best to seek the advice of your doctor or an accredited practising dietitian before making any changes to your diet. Most people with gout find that a healthy, balanced diet along with medication is enough to reduce their uric acid levels.
What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Gout
Consider asking your healthcare provider:
- What is causing the gout?
- Do I have any joint damage?
- What can I do to prevent future attacks?
- Can any gout medications help me?
- How long will I need to take gout medications?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Gout is a painful form of arthritis. Extra uric acid in your body creates sharp crystals in the joints, leading to swelling and extreme tenderness. Gout usually starts in the big toe but can affect other joints. Gout is a treatable condition, and the uric acid level can be decreased by medication and lifestyle changes. Talk to your healthcare provider about medications that can reduce uric acid levels. They can also discuss changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle to prevent and reduce gout attacks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/15/2020.
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How Can An Attack Of Gout Be Treated
The management of an acute attack of gout is very different from the prevention of subsequent attacks.
Treatments used for prevention, such as allopurinol can actually make things worse if given during an attack, and so need to be held back until the attack has resolved for several weeks.
There are a number of measures that can help resolve an attack of gout. See Table 2 for summary of treatment strategies for acute gout. One principle is that treatment for an attack of gout should be instituted quickly, since quick treatment can often be rewarded with a quick improvement.
If an attack of gout is allowed to last more than a day or so before treatment is started, the response to treatment may be much slower.
Table 2: Medications to treat acute attacks of gout