Gout Explained: Symptoms & Treatment Options

What is Gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when crystals of uric acid deposit into a joint. The presence of these crystals causes severe joint inflammation and it can be extremely painful. The crystals can deposit into any joint and attacks commonly occur in the big toe joint.

Patients are often genetically predisposed to gout. Certain medications and dietary habits can cause higher levels of uric acid to be present in the body and predispose the patient to gout.

Gout Symptoms

What is Gout?Patients with gout present with an extremely red, swollen, and painful joint. A single joint is usually affected and the pain occurs abruptly. The pain is so severe that even light touch to the joint is uncomfortable. The attack may last several days but will eventually subside on its own if not treated. If multiple attacks occur on the same joint, permanent joint damage may occur. Long standing gout may also lead to deposits of chalky material in the joint called tophi, which may also cause pain and irritation.

A diagnosis of gout is often made after a history and physical. X-rays are useful in evaluating if there is any destruction in the affected joint. Occasionally if there is doubt in the diagnosis, fluid from the joint can be taken and sent to pathology for evaluation. Pathologists will examine the fluid under a microscope and crystals can be seen in patients with gout.

Gout Treatment Options

Initially, the treatment for acute gout is to reduce the inflammation in the joint. This can be done with oral or injectable anti-inflammatory medications. Typical oral medications that are used for gout are indomethacin and colchicine. These are very effective in reducing pain and irritation of the affected joint. Additionally, a steroid injection directly into the affected joint will help reduce the inflammation quickly and locally.

Long-term treatment of gout involves preventing gout by reducing the amount of uric acid in the body. There are medicines that reduce the production uric acid in the body and those that increase the excretion of uric acid in the body. Additionally, diets that are high in uric acid and medicines that may cause uric acid to increase can be changed to reduce uric acid build up in the body.

Conclusion

Gout is a very common condition that can be very painful. Quick and appropriate treatment can provide relief and help prevent joint destruction in the future.

If you are suffering from gout or any other foot or ankle conditions, schedule an appointment at one of our 9 Southern California offices. Please call 877-989-9110 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com

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