Gout is a type of arthritis that develops when the levels of uric acid in the blood is high (hyperuricemia). This condition happens when the body makes extra uric acid due to consumption of foods rich in purines. Gout usually develops in the toes, knees, fingers, wrist, ankles, elbows and heels. Men are more susceptible to gout than women. The affected person experience swelling, severe pain and tenderness of the area and inflammation of the joints.
- Accumulation of uric crystals in the joint usually in the big toe causes severe pain usually at night.
- Lingering discomfort that last for days to weeks, eventually other attacks of gout last longer and affect other joints.
- The affected joints become red, warm, swollen and tender when touched.
- There is reduced mobility of the joint as the condition becomes severe.
- When uric acid or tophi gather together, they form into lumps that can be seen under the skin. These lumps cause pain when pressure is applied.
- Development of kidney stones which form from uric acid crystals and causes severe pain due to blockage of urine flow.
Gout can be caused when urate crystal buildup in the joint and result to inflammation and severe pain when gout attacks.
Urate crystals can also develop when there are high levels of uric acid in the blood. The body will produce uric acid when it breaks down purines that are found in foods such as steak, organ meats and sea foods. Alcoholic beverages such as beer and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar like fructose can cause an increase level of uric acid. Normally, uric acid is dissolved in the blood and passes through the kidneys into the urine, but sometimes the body produces plenty of uric acid and the kidney passes out small amounts of uric acid. When this happens, uric acid will accumulate and form sharp and needle-like crystals in the joints and surrounding tissues and result to inflammation, swelling and pain.
- Take plenty of rest, especially when the attack of gout is in bed.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected joint for at least 20 minutes. Avoid applying ice directly on the skin to help prevent causing damage on the skin. Ice helps to lessen pain and inflammation. If necessary, continue reapplying the cold compress on the affected joint during an attack, but wait until the skin returns to the normal temperature.
- Elevate the affected joint above the level of the chest.
- Use a cane to help minimize weight placed on the affected joint.
- Drink plenty of water during an attack of gout to help flush out the uric acid crystals in the system.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen to lessen the pain and inflammation caused by gout.