Our joints are amazing, facilitation incredible range of movement and fine dexterity – such as in finger joints. However, they can also be the source of severe pain and discomfort, including arthritis, sprains and gout.
Gout is a type of arthritis, characterised by by ‘attacks’ of severe pain, inflammation and swelling around a joint.
It’s caused by the build-up of small Uric Acid crystals forming inside and around the join, leading to severe, debilitating pain. This chemical, otherwise known as Urate, is usually excreted by the body, but from time-to-time levels can build up forming tiny crystals, which can accumulate in joints.
Around 1-2% of the British population are affected by gout every year – more often adults over 30-40, with slightly more men than women affected. An attack can develop over the course of a few hours, in the form of severe pain in one or more joint – often the big toe.
Gout can be treated with anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibruprofen. However, in some cases, gout. Failing this, a doctor can prescribe other medications, such as diclofenac, indomethacin or naproxen. There are also a variety of steroidal medications that can help relieve the pain and inflammation.
Untreated, a gout attack may last from 7-10 days.
It may also help, to follow the R.I.C.E Protocol to relieve swelling:
Rest – try moving the affected joint as little as possible, to prevent further pain.
Ice – applying ice to the area for 20 minutes at a time, between towels, can help relieve pain and swelling. Wait for the temperature of the area to have returned to normal before repeating.
Compression – an elastic wrap can help control swelling
Elevation – raising the joint above the level of the heart helps to reduce swelling.
There are a variety of reasons for the build-up of Uric Acid (Urate), resulting in gout. These include:
- Under-excretion of uric acid by the kidneys
- Excess alcohol consumption
- Insufficient Vitamin C in diet
- High fructose intake (such as in sweetened soft drinks).
- Diuretic medications (‘water’ tablets)
Risk factors for the development of gout also include:
- High blood pressure
- Kidney damage
- Vascular disease
How to avoid future attacks:
There are many lifestyle changes that gout-suffers can make, to reduce their chances of future attacks of gout. For example, losing weight is recommended for those who are overweight or obese. It’s also recommended for gout-sufferers to drink less fructose-sweetened drinks, and consider taking Vitamin C supplements as a preventative measure.
If you think you’re suffering from gout, pop in to any of our six central London clinics and our GP’s will be happy to help! Don’t endure the misery and pain that gout brings, book in for a GP consultation today!