What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Gout
Gout flares start suddenly and can last days or weeks. These flares are followed by long periods of remissionweeks, months, or yearswithout symptoms before another flare begins. Gout usually occurs in only one joint at a time. It is often found in the big toe. Along with the big toe, joints that are commonly affected are the lesser toe joints, the ankle, and the knee.
Symptoms in the affected joint may include:
- Pain, usually intense
How Will Gout Affect Me
Attacks can vary from person to person. Some people only have an attack every few years, while others have attacks every few months.
Without medication attacks tend to happen more often and other joints can become affected.
Having high urate levels and gout for a long time can lead to other health problems, including:
- narrowing of the arteries – which can lead to an increased risk of stroke or heart attacks or other heart problems
- osteoarthritis, which occurs when the urate crystals and hard tophi cause joint damage.
- an increased risk of developing kidney disease or worsening of the condition if you already have it
- kidney stones
- an increased risk of some cancers, especially prostate cancer
- mental health problems, including depression
- underactive thyroid
- erectile dysfunction in men.
If you take medication to lower your urate levels, and have a healthy diet and lifestyle, most of the damage and complications caused by gout can be stopped.
Treatments for gout are incredibly successful. There are two main parts to treating gout, which are:
- treating the acute attack
- treatments to prevent future attacks.
How Are Gout Attacks Prevented
Maintaining adequate fluid intake helps prevent acute gout attacks and decreases the risk of kidney stone formation in people with gout. Alcohol is known to have diuretic effects that can contribute to dehydration and precipitate acute gout attacks. Alcohol can also affect uric acid metabolism and cause hyperuricemia. It causes gout by slowing down the excretion of uric acid from the kidneys as well as by causing dehydration, which precipitates the crystals in the joints.
Also Check: Is Salsa Bad For Gout
What To Do During An Attack
- take any medication you’ve been prescribed as early as possible after you notice an attack this should start to have an effect within two or three days
- rest and raise the limb
- avoid knocking or damaging the affected joint
- keep the joint cool remove surrounding clothing and apply an ice pack, such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel
- ensure you’re well hydrated
Apply the ice pack to your joint for around 20 minutes. Don’t apply ice directly to your skin and don’t apply it for more than 20 minutes at a time because this could damage the skin.
If necessary, you can keep reapplying an ice pack to your skin during an attack, but you should wait until your skin has returned to a normal temperature first.
What Procedure Is Used To Diagnose Gouty Arthritis
Gout is usually diagnosed by a doctor based on the location of the inflamed joint and a history of having similar non-traumatic attacks of pain and swelling. The most reliable test for confirming gout is an arthrocentesis. Arthrocentesis is a procedure where fluid is withdrawn from an inflamed joint with a needle and syringe, using a sterile technique and a local anesthetic such as lidocaine. The fluid is sent to a lab where it is analyzed for the presence of uric acid crystals.
You May Like: Can Gout Be In The Ankle
Why Do I Have Gout
Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid in your blood, a condition called hyperuricemia. When a persons uric acid levels rise, so does the risk of a gout flare-up.
Uric acid is always present in our blood, and it is eliminated when we urinate. When someone has gout, the uric acid builds up and crystallizes within the joints.
Foot gout can also be attributed to heredity. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases conducted a study showing that 18 percent of people who develop gout have a family history of the condition.
Numerous other medical conditions also increase the risk of developing gout. These conditions include:
Other risk factors for developing gout include:
- Alcohol consumption
- Consumption of foods rich in purine
- Exposure to lead in the environment
- Being male
When you drink alcohol, you increase the concentration of uric acid in your body. When this happens, you increase your risk of developing gout. Abusing alcohol can also affect other parts of your body, including your kidneys, which are responsible for eliminating uric acid.
Certain medications such as aspirin, diuretics, and levodopa can also interfere with your bodys ability to remove uric acid, causing a build-up.
The Role Of Medication In Prevention Of Gout
Table 3: Medications to pevent attacks of gout
Standard medications in preventing gout attacks
i. Colchicine : using the matches analogy discussed above1, using colchicine can be seen as dampening the uric acid matches. Colchicine does not lower the bodys store of uric acid, but it decreases the intensity of the bodys inflammatory reaction to these crystals. Recent studies have shown that at least one mechanism of colchicines action is by acting to prevent a cascade of reactions that lead to the production of interleukin 1-beta, which is an inflammatory protein , which is important in gouty inflammation.8
ii. Allopurinol: This agent is presently the most commonly used drug for the prevention of gout. Allopurinol blocks the enzyme xanthine oxidase, which blocks the breakdown of purines, thus decreasing the bodys total amount of uric acid. Allopurinol is effective in preventing gout no matter what the mechanism of the elevated uric acid was. Whether a person is making too much uric acid, or has difficulty excreting it via the kidney, allopurinols decrease in uric acid production leads to the same goal: a decreased total body uric acid.
Table 4: Reasons to use medication to lower uric acid
You May Like: Is Onion Bad For Gout
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.
S Of The Gout For Better Understanding
Heres few pictures of the gout!
If you have pain, swelling and redness at the base of the great toe then most likely it is due to gout. It not only affects this joint but initially it may affect small joints of fingers of hand and leg, in the later stage, it may also affect large joints such as the ankle, knee wrist and elbow joint.
Gout happens due to increased blood uric acid level. Pharmacological management focuses on controlling the blood uric acid level but being a physiotherapist I will also suggest few home tips and exercises that will prevent the joint swelling, pain and most important is joint stiffness.
So, lets get started.
Read Also: Baking Soda And Water For Gout
Southern Cross Medical Library
The purpose of the Southern Cross Medical Library is to provide information of a general nature to help you better understand certain medical conditions. Always seek specific medical advice for treatment appropriate to you. This information is not intended to relate specifically to insurance or healthcare services provided by Southern Cross. For more articles go to the Medical Library index page.
Can It Lead To Any Complications
If left unmanaged, gout-related inflammation can cause permanent damage to your ankle joint, especially if you have frequent flare-ups.
Over time, lumps of uric acid crystals, called tophi, can also form around your ankle. These lumps arent painful, but they can cause additional swelling and tenderness during a flare-up.
Recommended Reading: Drinking Epsom Salt For Gout
What Are The Symptoms Of Gout Foot
You may have heard a lot about gout. Gout is a type of arthritis and may affect the joints of the knees, wrist, toes, ankles and hands. Gout usually occurs when urate crystals accumulate in the affected joint. Symptoms of foot gout often include swelling, skin peeling and sudden, unexpected pain.
Symptoms of foot gout: swelling, skin peeling and sudden, unexpected pain
Some people with foot gout may have inflammation and extreme pain in the joints of the feet.
In fact, these symptoms of foot gout usually occur suddenly at night. And if you dont seek immediate treatment, the pain and discomfort may come again.
Pictures of foot gout:
Which Joints Are Involved In Gouty Arthritis And Why Is It Most Common In The Foot
As with all other known types of arthritis, Gout has particular joints it tends to attack, and the foot is its most common location. Gout especially favors the bunion joint, known as the first metatarsophalangeal joint , but the ankle, midfoot and knee are also common locations, as is the bursa that overlies the elbow.
The bunion joint is the first joint involved in 75% of patients and is ultimately involved in over 90% of those with this condition. . It is thought that this joint is especially involved in gout because it is the joint that receives the highest pounds per square inch of pressure when walking or running.
Late in gout, if untreated, multiple joints can be involved, including the fingers and wrists. The shoulder joint is very rarely involved by gout and the same is true of the hip.
Figure 5: Location of Gout Attacks
Also Check: Is Clam Chowder Bad For Gout
What Are Future Possible Treatments Of Gout
Fortunately, present medications are successful in the vast majority of gout patients. But some patients cannot tolerate our present arsenal of gout medications. For others, these agents are not sufficiently effective. Therefore, new treatments are continually being sought. Some of the more promising include anakinra, rilonacept, canakinumab, BCX4208 and arhalofenate.
How Common Is Gout In The Knee
As a general rule of thumb, if left untreated, gout tends to work its way up the body, Dr. Keenan explains.
For example, he cites research that shows 50 percent of patients experience their first gout attack in the big toe. If gout worsens, 35 percent of secondary flares occur in the knee, 40 percent in the midfoot and ankle, 30 percent in elbows and wrists, and 15 percent in fingers.
Its not uncommon for a person to experience their first gout flare in their knee and, after an X-ray or ultrasound, show signs of gout in the foot, he adds.
Gout can afflict both knees, but typically is felt more strongly in one knee where arthritis from general wear is worse.
Also Check: Is Bc Powder Good For Gout
How Can I Manage My Gout And Improve My Quality Of Life
Gout affects many aspects of daily living, including work and leisure activities. Fortunately, there are many low-cost self-management strategies that are proven to improve the quality of life of people with gout.
For gout in particular:
- Eat a healthy diet. Avoid foods that may trigger a gout flare, including foods high in purines , and limit alcohol intake .
CDCs Arthritis Program recommends five self-management strategies for managing arthritis and its symptoms. These can help with gout as well.
Arthritis / Acute Gout Attack
Gout is a form of arthritis, hence it causes pain and discomfort in the joints. A typical gout attack is characterized by the sudden onset of severe pain, swelling, warmth, and redness of a joint. The clinical presentation of acute gouty arthritis is not subtle with very few mimics other than a bacterial infection.
The joint most commonly involved in gout is the first metatarsophalangeal joint , and is called podagra. Any joint may be involved in a gout attack with the most frequent sites being in the feet, ankles, knees, and elbows.
An acute gout attack will generally reach its peak 12-24 hours after onset, and then will slowly begin to resolve even without treatment. Full recovery from a gout attack takes approximately 7-14 days.
An accurate and colorful discription of a gout attack was elegantly written in 1683 by Dr. Thomas Sydenham who was himself a sufferer of gout:
Read Also: Is Almond Milk Good For Gout
How Do You Get Gout
There are a few risk factors that increase your chances of getting gout or of triggering a gout attack. They include:
- Diet high in purines, including red meat, organ meats, and seafood
- Drinking a lot of sugary beverages
- Alcohol consumption
- Medical issues such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, and diabetes
- Medications diuretics and low-dose aspirin
- Family history of gout
- A recent surgery or injury
One of the first places gout attacks is the great toealthough it can be just about any joint. Certain foods like red meat, seafood, sugary beverages, and even beer can help set it off. Gout attacks can become chronic and lead to destruction of the joint, so its important to avoid risk factors and manage attacks as they occur. Dr. Schwartz
What Causes Gout Attacks
The human body produces Urate . This is responsible for breaking down purines and is usually passed out in urine. If urate is not passed out or if you produce too much, then crystals can form and build up. It is the build-up of these crystals in the joints that causes the swelling and pain.
Purines can be found naturally in the body, but they are also found in red meat, shellfish and certain types of alcoholic drink . A high intake of these products means a higher level of purines and therefore a higher chance of a gout attack.
Being overweight can also lead to a higher chance of developing and experiencing gout symptoms.
Abuse and extensive use of aspirin and other diuretic medicines often used to manage high blood pressure , can also trigger a gout attack.
Whilst gout is commonly referred to as the rich mans disease because of its association with rich foods and a luxurious lifestyle, very low calorie diets can also be the catalyst for an attack of gout. Additionally, fast weight lost can also incur gout symptoms.
Also Check: Are Raisins Bad For Gout
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.
During A Foot Gout Flare
If you are experiencing a gout flare-up and are unable to reach your doctor, there are a few things you can do to help reduce the symptoms:
- At the first sign of symptoms, take ibuprofen or naproxen
- Drink plenty of water
- Rest and elevate your foot immediately
- Place cold compresses on the affected area
Also Check: Is Grapes Bad For Gout