How Is Gout Diagnosed
Your health care provider will get your complete medical history and do a physical exam. She may run these exams and tests to diagnose gout:
- Ajoint fluid analysis to see if uric acid crystals are present. This is the only certain way to diagnose gout.
- Tests to measure uric acid levels in blood and urine
There are many conditions with symptoms similar to gout. Be sure to see your doctor for a diagnosis.
How To Handle Your First Gout Attack
After a first attack of gout, its OK to try to stave off another one with dietary changes alone. But if you have another attack, its important to start taking preventive gout medications on a regular basis. Long-term medications for gout include allopurinol and febuxostat, both of which limit uric acid production.
Some patients, says Dr. Fields, treat each attack as a separate event and dont talk to their doctors about doing a preventive approach. He uses the analogy of lighting a book of matches. If you have one match lit, its easy to put out, but if you have the whole book lit, its a lot harder.
Symptoms Of Foot Gout
A gout flare in the foot can be sudden and extremely painful. It feels like your big toe is on fire as it feels hot, swollen, and tender. The first 36 hours are the worst but after that, the pain lessens and lingers, but it doesnt entirely go away until after a week or two.
Once you experience a gout attack, call your doctor right away. They will provide you with medication to help lower uric acid levels and prevent it from worsening.
You may have difficulty walking or wearing shoes when you have foot gout. Its pretty common for gout sufferers to walk slower, have reduced stride length, and less pressure on the midfoot. This is because gout in the foot can be very painful and walking in such a manner can help lessen the pain.
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Manage And Prevent Gout And Diabetes
Itâs important to keep your uric acid and blood sugar under control if you have gout and diabetes or want to keep from having them.
Your habits and lifestyle are some of the best ways to do that:
- Eat a healthy diet. Include foods that are low in calories and fat, but high in fiber, to lower your risk of diabetes. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are best. To protect against gout, you may want to avoid red meat, shellfish, sugary foods and drinks, and alcohol, especially beer. Low-fat dairy foods might protect you from gout, so keep them on the menu.
- Lose weight. Less body fat can lower your uric acid levels and improve your blood sugar. But donât fast or try a crash diet. Quick weight loss can raise uric acid.
- Exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Exercise can help you stay at a healthy weight, which makes gout and diabetes less likely.
- Manage other health issues. If you have other problems, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or kidney disease, make sure to take care of them. Follow your doctorâs instructions, and take all of your medicines.
Gout & Uric Acid Education Society: âGout and Diabetes: If you have gout, you may be at risk for diabetes.â
Arthritis Foundation: âWhat is Gout?â âFive Conditions Linked with Gout,â âHow Fat Affects Gout.â
CDC: âNew CDC report: More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes.â
American Heart Association: âUnderstand Your Risk for Diabetes.â
Pain And Swelling Are Gouts Calling Cards
The most frequent signs of a gout attack are swelling, tenderness, redness, and a sharp pain in your big toe. These attacks are most common at night when you are sitting still and laying flat on your back. While gout usually manifests in the big toe, you may also experience gout attacks in your foot, ankle, or knees. The attacks can be short or long, anywhere from a few days to weeks and you may not have another attack may for months or years.
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Gout Doesnt Have To Be A Pain
Gout attacks can be recurring. Over time, the condition can harm your joints, tendons, and other tissues if not treated correctly. The best course of action with the fewest side effects is to follow a gout-friendly diet and limit your intake of red meats, seafood, and alcohol. If you suffer from gout and want to try a holistic approach to treating the disease, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure this is the right course of action for you.
Ellis, R., Fighting the agony of gout with a daily glass of cherry juice, Daily Mail, September 28, 2014 .Treatments and Remedies for Gout, Mercola , last accessed May 5, 2017.Gout: Facts and Information, Mercola , last accessed May 5, 2017.
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
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How Does A Doctor Diagnose Gout
If you have sudden or severe pain in a joint, you should talk to your primary care provider . Your PCP may send you to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in gout and other kinds of arthritis.
Healthcare providers consider several things when confirming gout:
- Symptoms: The provider will ask you to describe your symptoms, how often they happen and how long they last.
- Physical examination: Your provider will examine the affected joint to look for swelling, redness and warmth.
- Blood work: A test can measure the amount of uric acid in your blood.
- Imaging tests: You may have pictures taken of the affected joint with X-rays, an ultrasound or MRI.
- Aspiration: The provider may use a needle to pull fluid from the joint. Using a microscope, a team member can look for uric acid crystals or a different problem .
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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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:
Treating A Gout Attack
The methods of stopping an attack of gout can vary depending on the severity of pain. Your orthopedic physician may give you a shot of corticosteroids. They may also prescribe other types of medications that are specifically designed to treat gout. To ease the pain during a gout attack, rest the joint that hurts. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine may also be prescribed to help reduce the pain. The good news is that following treatment, relief from the pain and discomfort of a gout attack often begins within 24 hours. It is important to still make an appointment with your orthopedic physician even if your pain from gout is gone. The buildup of uric acid that led to your gout attack can still harm your joints. An orthopedic physician will help you get relief from the pain of gout attacks and learn ways to prevent flare-ups in the future.
*The blog is for general information and educational purposes only regarding musculoskeletal conditions. The information provided does not constitute the practice of medicine or other healthcare professional services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor-patient relationship is formed. Readers with musculoskeletal conditions should seek the advice of their healthcare professionals without delay for any condition they have. The use of the information is at the readers own risk. The content is not intended to replace diagnosis, treatment or medical advice from your treating healthcare professional.
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The Role Of Physical Activity In Prevention Of Gout
Along with diet, physical activity can help with weight loss, and gout has been associated with being overweight.7 in patients with well-established gout, especially if X-rays have demonstrated joint damage in the foot, a low-impact exercise program is reasonable. An exercise program combined with diet in gout can reduce risk for attacks.7 If an attack seems to be coming on in the lower extremity, patients are well-advised to try to get off their feet, since impact seems to worsen gout attacks. Clues to an attack of gout coming on include local swelling, heat, redness, and tenderness in a joint, especially in the foot, ankle, or knee. Some patients have fever and chills as the first warning that an attack of gout is coming on.
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How To Get Fast Relief From Gout Attacks
Gout pain can be debilitating, and can prevent you from performing routine activitieseven walking or standing can hurt.
Thats because many attacks start at the base of the big toe.
Pain and inflammation in this region can make walking or standing for long periods of time excruciating.
There are a few home remedies that may provide quick relief for a gout flare-up.
But if your pain is severe, sudden, or worsening, contact a healthcare professional before attempting any remedies at home.
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Take Caution With Supplements For Gout
As for the many supplements and other purported home remedies available for gout, including turmeric and bromelain, there is no significant evidence backing them up as of now, and theres no adequate evidence showing that supplements have any effect even comparable to that of medicines.
From my point of view, says Dr. Fields, the home remedy concept to gout is often harmful because it keeps patients from taking medications that we know are effective.
Risk Factors For Gout And Diabetes
Many of the same things can make your chances of having gout or diabetes go up. You may be more likely to get them if you:
- Are overweight or obese. If you carry extra fat on your body, youâre more likely to have both gout and type 2 diabetes.
- Drink too much alcohol. Moderate amounts of alcohol — one drink a day for women and men over 65 and two for men 65 and younger — may actually lower your chances of getting diabetes. But too much can affect how your pancreas releases insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. More than two drinks a day can also up your odds of gout.
- Have a family history of them. If one of your family members has had gout or diabetes, youâre more likely to get these diseases, too.
- Have other health problems. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are linked to both conditions.
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Home Remedies For Gout
Because of the rise in health care costs and the popular inclination to try natural home remedies to prevent the need for prescription drugs and surgeries, many people are turning toward alternative remedies to treat gout. A number of these home remedies have been acknowledged for treating gout. But, are they effective or not? We will present a number of them below and discuss their likelihood of success.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is used to treat gout because its acidity relieves the acute pain associated with gout and other types of arthritis. The vinegar increases the bodys alkalinity and has anti-inflammatory properties. Some individuals also add honey to the apple cider vinegar because of honeys anti-inflammatory properties.
The bad news is that you take the concoction by the spoonful, and apple cider vinegar isnt exactly known for its amazing taste. To be most effective, you need to take up to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar three times a day. Scientific results are lacking in evidence that apple cider vinegar really works. There was a study in Japan in 2010 which looked at different diets to improve alkalization of urine to increase the removal of uric acid from the body. Apple cider vinegar was in one of the diets, but was not tested alone.
Success stories are hit or miss with apple cider vinegar and the treatment of gout. We give it two stars.
2. Ginger Root
3. Baking Soda
4. Lemon Juice
5. Epsom Salt
What Is Gout In Foot
Foot gout is a very common occurrence among gout sufferers. You probably had your very first flare in this area or have heard accounts from fellow sufferers who experienced the same. This is because gout commonly occurs in the big toe. Yes, it can affect other joints, but for the most part, gout targets the foot.
There is a similar condition to foot gout called hallux limitus. Its important not to confuse the two. They are both arthritis conditions, and the only difference is that hallux limitus is caused by the decomposition of cartilage around the big toe joint. With gout, however, the arthritis is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood which then gets deposited in the joint
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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.
Rebecca Manno, MD, MHS, assistant professor of medicine, division of rheumatology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Robert T. Keenan, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine, division of rheumatology and immunology, Duke University School of Medicine.
Scott Zashin, MD, clinical professor of medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School attending physician, Presbyterian Hospital.
Lan Chen, MD, PhD, attending rheumatologist, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
Gout and Pseudogout Treatment & Management: “Treatment.”
Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center: “Gout — Treatments for Gout.”
Merck Manual: “Gout.”
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:
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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.