What is gout?
Gout, a type of arthritis, is a buildup of uric acid in the body.
Uric acid is a waste product which is flushed away by the kidneys through urine. With this condition, the body either makes too much or doesn't excrete enough. Because there is too much and no where to go the body forms crystals which deposit in different joints of the body.
These joints become swollen and tender to the touch. Usually affecting the big toe, it can also affect the knee, ankle, foot, hand, wrist and elbow.
The body will deposit here as these are cooler joints and uric acid tends to crystallize at cooler temps. Other symptoms of gouty arthritis can include fever, chills, a general sick feeling and a rapid heartbeat.
How common is it?
Gout affect 1 in 30 Canadians and men are more likely than women to develop it. Men are usually between the ages of 30 - 50 and women will develop gout after the age of 60. It also occurs in societies with a higher standard of living.
Over 50% of people who have had an attack will have a recurrence within the year. Over time the attacks may become more frequent and involve other joints.
For some, the pain may stay therefore causing consistent inflammation.
Uric acid can also be deposited in soft tissue know as Tophi. Displaying whitish or yellowish deposits under the skin.
Sometimes these deposits can break through the skin. This can occur anywhere but more often in the fingers, toes, backs of the elbows, heals or around outer edges of the ears. Uric acid can also deposit in the kidneys or urinary tract. Almost 20% of sufferers have kidney stones.
An attack may be triggered by a minor injury, surgery, consumption of large quantities of alcohol or protein rich foods, fatigue, emotional stress or illness.
How to prevent recurrences
Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol. Eat smaller amounts of protein rich foods. If you are overweight lose some and you'll find that the uric acid levels should return to normal or near normal. Sudden dramatic changes in diet and weight gain and loss can be associated with attacks.
Once an attack is under control, exercising can help strengthen the joint. Of course, regular exercise helps to maintain weight and stress levels.
It's always wise to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program so ask him/her about adding some low-impact exercise to your life like swimming, walking, cycling.
These exercises can all help you maintain the strength and flexibility as well as increasing your endurance. This will also help keep the muscles and tendons around your joints become stronger.
Return from Gout
to Joint Pain