Currently, about 8.4 million people are living with gout in America. As the most common type of inflammatory arthritis, gout is a painful and frustrating condition.
But what helps gout? We’re here to help with all you need to know about living with gout and a few tips on managing gout flares.
Living With Gout
More common in men than women, gout causes severe, sudden joint pain and swelling, most commonly starting in the patient’s big toe. Gout can also affect other joints and the surrounding areas, such as the ankles, knees, and feet.
Risk Factors and Diagnosis
Gout can result from genes, health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and psoriasis, certain medications, and a high-purine diet. Flares can also be triggered by surgery, infection, or severe illness. Men are three times more likely than women to develop gout, and it is more common in men over 40 and postmenopausal women.
Gout is diagnosed with a physical exam, reviewing the patient’s medical history, and ordering lab tests. The doctor may also take fluid from the affected joint and order an MRI, X-ray, or ultrasound.
Managing Gout Flares
A gout flare-up is caused by a buildup of uric acid, which can form painful, needle-like crystals lodged in the joints. Most gout flares last one to two weeks and may not flare up again for months or years.
What Helps Gout?
While gout is not curable, there are multiple treatment options. Patients with gout should create a detailed treatment plan with their doctor when they are first diagnosed. Gout treatment usually involves treating the symptoms of gout flare-ups, prescribed medication, and a healthy diet low in high-purine foods.
Doctors recommend using the following treatment options to reduce pain and swelling of a gout flare-up:
- Elevate and ice the affected joint
- Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, or colchicine.
- Drink plenty of fluids (and avoid sugary and alcoholic beverages)
- Relax and destress by watching a movie, listening to music, or reading a book (stress can worsen the flare)
Even though gout tends to pop up at the worst times, there are several lifestyle changes and tips you can implement that may help make living with gout easier.
- Eat a healthy diet with little to no high-purine foods (red and organ meat, shellfish, gravy, etc.), which cause uric acid buildup
- Use a cane when flare-ups occur (to relieve pressure from the affected joint)
- Avoid sugary, high-fructose drinks and alcoholic beverages, especially beer
How We Can Help
At Advanced Rheumatology of Houston, we understand how painful and frustrating gout flare-ups can be. Our experienced rheumatologist in the Woodlands Tx, Dr. Brionez, will help you develop a medication and treatment plan to manage your gout for the future – not just during the flare-ups.
If you’re ready to get on the track to managing and living with gout, contact Advanced Rheumatology of Houston at (281) 519-3969 or click here to learn more about gout and to make an appointment.