Gout is a serious condition that affects over 9.2 million people in the U.S. The pain associated with gout can be debilitating and even lead to long-term disability. Gout flare-ups, which occur when the pain is at its worst, can last days or weeks and affect your ability to carry out everyday activities.
Because it tends to affect the big toe the most, activities like driving or even walking can become excruciatingly painful. In severe cases, gout can lead to permanent joint and tissue damage.
Gout is a kind of arthritis. It can cause sudden, severe pain and swelling in your joints. The condition is caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in your joints, which can lead to intense and chronic pain.
Gout most commonly affects the big toe (in fact, 50 percent of gout attacks begin in the big toe). However, gout can also affect the ankles, wrists, fingers, and elbows. In some cases, gout can even spread to the knees, hands, and shoulders.
The presence of uric acid crystals in your joints and the surrounding tissue, they can cause inflammation and pain. This is due to a response from the immune system, which tries to break down and remove the crystals. As a result, the pain is often sharp, intense, and sudden.
The accumulation of uric acid crystals is caused by an excess of uric acid in your bloodstream. There are several causes and potential risk factors that can cause this buildup, such as:
A family history of gout will increase your risk of developing the condition. Certain genetic mutations can cause the body to produce more uric acid than it can process, resulting in a buildup of uric acid crystals.
As you age, your kidneys become less effective at filtering and removing waste from your body. As a result, uric acid is more likely to build up in your blood, causing gout.
Purines are organic compounds found in some foods. The body breaks purines down into uric acid so it can be removed with greater ease. Unfortunately, eating too many purine-rich foods, such as organ meats and seafood, can lead to an accumulation of uric acid.
High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is often added to sodas and other sweet beverages. When consumed in large amounts, HFCS can contribute to elevated uric acid levels and increase the risk of gout.
Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, can lead to elevated uric acid levels. Beer is particularly known for containing high amounts of purines, which are converted to uric acid in the body.
Various symptoms are associated with gout, ranging from mild discomfort to debilitating pain. The following are common symptoms associated with gout:
The most common gout symptom is intense pain in the affected joint. Gout pain generally comes on suddenly and can be very severe. It’s often described as a burning sensation or throbbing ache. Pain can last for several days or even weeks, making it difficult to move the affected joint and making everyday activities such as walking or driving unbearable.
Also, dealing with long periods of gout pain can lead to disrupted sleep and fatigue.
The affected joint can become discolored or reddish. This discoloring can happen because of the presence of uric acid crystals and inflammation.
The joint may also be tender when touched or become swollen and stiff as a result of the inflammation. It’s common for these symptoms to accompany the intense pain of gout and the discoloration of the joint.
The affected joint may also be unusually warm when you touch it due to increased blood flow as a result of inflammation.
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Even if a gout attack doesn’t cause debilitating pain, the swelling that is common due to inflammation can make it difficult to move the affected joint. Here are some tips for managing a gout attack:
You can reduce any swelling or pain by putting an ice pack on the affected joint. Doing so can help address any unusual warmth in the joint as well.
Elevating the affected joint can also help reduce swelling and pain. Whether you sit in an armchair with your feet elevated or put a pillow under your leg. Elevating the joint helps reduce swelling and pain by reducing pressure on the joint. Doing so can help to improve circulation in the area, which can help speed up recovery.
Resting the affected joint is also critical. Limiting physical activity, especially any movement that causes pain, can help reduce inflammation and relieve pressure on the joint.
Staying hydrated is essential for managing a gout attack. Dehydration can worsen symptoms by increasing uric acid concentration in the blood. Drinking plenty of water can help reduce uric acid levels in the body and relieve pain. Not to mention that electrolytes and minerals found in water also help reduce inflammation.
Gout affects millions of people, which means that most medical professionals aren’t strangers to treating patients with gout. Unfortunately, there is no cure for gout; however, there are many ways in which gout can be treated. The following are some of the more conventional treatment options:
Because purine-rich foods are known for triggering gout attacks, a low-purine diet is one of the most commonly prescribed treatments. This means avoiding high-purine foods such as red meat, organ meats, and seafood (such as sardines, mackerel, and anchovies).
Many doctors may recommend Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), which is a plan emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Over-the-counter medications are often recommended to help address pain and inflammation. Just keep in mind that these medications are only effective at providing short-term relief because they’re only addressing the symptoms of gout, not the condition itself.
Prescription medications tend to be much stronger, meaning they can be more effective but also riskier to take. For instance, some prescription medications can result in side effects and can be habit-forming. The following are the different types of medications often prescribed to address gout:
Gout doesn’t always cause severe pain, but that doesn’t mean you should just leave it untreated. If you experience any gout symptoms, you must have the condition diagnosed so that you can take steps to treat it. If you don’t treat your gout, it could result in the following consequences:
Gout can cause inflammation and pain in the affected joint. If left untreated, gout can damage the joint over time, leading to permanent loss of mobility that will cause difficulty performing everyday activities.
If left untreated gout can lead to several additional conditions, including:
There is no cure for gout. However, there are ways that you can prevent gout from occurring or reduce the risk of flare-ups. One way is to follow a low-purine diet, decreasing the amount of uric acid in your body. Additionally, drinking lots of water will help reduce uric acid levels by flushing out toxins from the body.
Finally, regular exercise is also vital for gout prevention as it helps reduce inflammation and improve circulation. With a balanced combination of these strategies, you can reduce the risk of developing gout or experiencing gout flare-ups.
Here at Neuragenex, we treat gout using a Neurofunctional Pain Management approach. This approach focuses on addressing the underlying causes of gout pain and providing long-term relief without surgery or medications.
Our Neuragenex protocol is a non-invasive, drug-free, non-chiropractic, whole-person approach to treating gout pain. Our goal is to not only reduce the inflammation and pain associated with gout, but also to help restore mobility and function. We use a combination of treatment solutions to achieve this, including:
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At Neuragenex, our goal is to help patients manage their gout pain and symptoms with a customized treatment plan designed to provide long-term relief. Our combination of electroanalgesia, specialized IV therapy, and lifestyle counseling can help reduce inflammation, improve circulation, reduce uric acid levels, and more.
We believe in providing our patients with the best care and are committed to helping them manage their gout symptoms without resorting to risky treatment solutions, such as pain medications or surgery.
We take great pride in the wealth of talent and expertise that our providers have as they improve the health outcomes of our patients, each and every day.
Dr. Victor Osisanya is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and his medical degree from Chicago Medical School. Upon completion of...
Ashley Locus is a Board-Certified Nurse Practitioner who began her career in healthcare as a registered nurse in 2013, working in a diverse array of healthcare settings including the emergency department, critical care, case management,...
Dipa is a double board-certified Nurse Practitioner in Family as well as Adult-Gerontology Acute Care. She graduated with her Bachelor’s in Nursing from Mercer University in Macon, GA and her Master’s in Nursing from Columbia...
Emma Henigman is a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Lakeview College of Nursing and then her Master of Science in Nursing at Olivet Nazarene University. Emma started...
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Dr. Mikuzis is also a certified life care planner (CLCP, LCP-C). He has studied extensively and trained with physicians including programs sponsored by The American Association of Orthopedic Medicine, The American Academy of Osteopathic Medicine,...
Neuragenex has a proven strategy to help deal with gout pain.