Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis characterised by recurrent attacks of extreme pain, swelling and redness. Gout is more common in men, and often several men of the one family can be affected by gout.
While most other types of arthritis develop slowly, an attack of gout happens suddenly, often overnight. The most commonly affected joint is the big toe, but gout may be experienced in the feet, ankles and knees, and less commonly in the elbows, hands and other joints. For some people, even the weight of a bed sheet can cause intolerable pain.
Gout occurs when uric acid builds up in the bloodstream and deposits urate crystals in the joint. These crystals form slowly over months or years. The build-up of uric acid is most commonly caused by under-excretion of uric acid by the kidneys, but may also be caused by the overproduction of uric acid by the body.
Without treatment the attack usually resolves within one or two weeks, and with medication, it can be resolved within several days. However, the crystals still remain in the joint.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor will consider various treatment options including:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Corticosteroids injections
- Oral medication to manage uric acid levels.
In an acute attack, applying an ice pack to the painful joint for 10–15 minutes at a time and protecting or resting the joint can help to reduce pain.
The methods of managing an acute attack of gout differ from the ongoing methods for managing gout. If you suffer from gout you will benefit in the long term from making healthy changes to your lifestyle including:
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Cut down on alcohol consumption
- Keep hydrated
- Exercise regularly
- Work closely with your doctor to prevent further attacks and actively manage your condition.
Pain of this type may also benefit from the use of a pain relieving gel which can be found in our Online shop.