Gout - What a Pain in the Joint

Gout is a common condition that causes many patients a great deal of pain. However one fortunate thing is that most attacks are short lived and will usually go away within ten days, even without treatment. Now gout causes a very bad pain and an intense swelling in one or more of the joints of your body. Attacks of gout occur when you have a high level of a chemical called urate in your blood. Now this urate is said to build up as the result of eating various foods and in many this causes no problems, however in many unlucky people the urate can form crystals. The crystals deposit themselves in joints and when the crystal level gets high enough the joints are irritated and inflammation occurs.

There are many things that can cause too much urate to form in the blood and some of these are as follows; eating a lot of red meat, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, having other medical conditions and taking some medications such as diuretics for a long period of time. People with gout will usually complain of a very sever pain in one or more of their joints. The pain is sudden i.e. over the period of a few hours and can often occur at night. Some of the more common joints that are affected include the big toe, knee, ankle, finger, wrist and elbow. Joints that are affected with gout will usually appear swollen and may feel warm to the touch. One may also notice that the skin surrounding the affected joint will look red and shiny. Touching and knocking the joint about may cause the pain to worsen and resting the joint may provide some relief. Another thing that can go along with gout are little chalky deposits that form under the skin called tophi. You should visit the doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms and they should be able to diagnose you just based on examination. Although they will most likely want to do a blood test to check how much urate is present in your blood.

There are a lot of different treatments for gout and some are more affective than others and some need to be used in combination. When you have a sudden onset attack of gout we can treat the initial pain and joint swelling with pain and inflammation medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. There are lots of types of these medications available and your doctor will prescribe one that is right for you. The main problem with these medications is that they can be harsh on the lining of your stomach and as a result your doctor may prescribe another medication to help protect the stomach lining. There is another medication known as colchicine that can be used to treat gout. Side effects from this drug include diarrhea and vomiting. Colchicine is not a medication that can be taken for a long period of time due to bad side effects, however this can be a very effective treatment if used in the short term. Some people cannot take the above medications, usually because they have kidney damage and in these people a short course of steroids are usually prescribed.

Prevention is an important factor in gout and something that your family doctor will try to manage after you have had an acute attack. These are medications that are taken for a long time, maybe even your entire life.Allopurinal is a medication that has been used for along time in the prevention of gout attacks, however it can actually make things worse if you are started on this medication whilst you are having an attack of gout. For this reason your doctor will not start you on it for at least two weeks following your last attack. This medication does not work instantly and may take about two months to be effective and during this time you will need to have blood tests to ensure the levels are correct.

Another medication known as probenecid can be used if allopurinol is not effective, however this drug is more likely to give you a kidney stone. This happens as the result of the urate in your blood getting transferred to your urine stream. When you are on these medications you need to drink lots of fluid even as much as 3 liters.

As always there are things that you can do for yourself such as attaching an ice pack to the swollen and inflamed joint or making a protective cover so that your joint cannot be knocked around. You should also avoid alcohol and red meat where possible and try to exercise when not injured.

Fortunately your gout is likely to go away on it’s own accord within ten days, however this will be ten horrible days and is something you will want to get treated and try to prevent happening again. Although some people only have one attack of gout in their life, it is certainly more common for people to get multiple attacks throughout the course of their life. Gout is not the only problem that you can experience with high levels of urate, as people with lots of urate in their blood also tend to suffer from kidney stones at some point in their lives. So gout is a horrible and painful condition that fortunately can be treated and if you are willing to try preventative medication measures then it is a disease that hopefully will not come back.

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