People usually associate gout with pain in the big toe. And, while that’s the joint most often affected, there is more to this condition than meets the eye.
Gout is actually an inflammatory form of arthritis that typically affects one joint in the body at a time, and the intense pain it causes is often worse at night. It develops when too much uric acid builds up in your system, causing urate crystals to form in the affected joint, triggering symptoms that include:
In the past, people attributed gout to an overly indulgent lifestyle. However, genetics is often the leading risk factor for this disorder, while diet and weight usually exacerbate your symptoms.
At Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Florida, P.A., Dr. Edward R. Dupay, Jr. understands that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for treating arthritis conditions like gout. That’s why he offers personalized treatment plans to help address your symptoms, so you don’t have to let pain slow you down.
If you have gout, Dr. Dupay recommends taking these steps to manage your condition.
First, it’s crucial to work with an expert you trust when you have a chronic condition like arthritis. And it’s even more when you have gout.
Gout may be incredibly common, but it’s also one of the most underdiagnosed diseases. Its symptoms can also get confused with another form of arthritis, calcium pyrophosphate deposition (CPPD) — previously known as pseudogout.
The sooner you receive an accurate diagnosis for your joint pain, the faster you can find relief and get back on your feet again. And, if you continue having flare-ups, don’t wait to schedule a follow-up appointment.
Gout flare-ups typically come and go. For 62% of people, that can mean more than a year between attacks — and some will be attack-free for 10 years. But others can experience more frequent flare-ups, which can put your joints at risk.
After learning you have gout, it’s important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan, especially if it involves anti-inflammatory medications. These usually come in two types that address two different problems: reducing the pain and inflammation that occurs with a gout attack and decreasing your chances of having symptoms in the future by lowering uric acid in your system.
In addition to medications, dietary changes can also ease gout symptoms and reduce your risk of attacks. These modifications include:
For best results, consider adopting a Mediterranean or DASH diet that can also benefit your heart health. And, if you have extra pounds to lose, work with your doctor to create a healthy weight-loss strategy that includes dietary adjustments and low-impact exercise, like walking.
We know what you’re thinking — what does this have to do with joint pain? Believe it or not, gout has been shrouded in stigma and misunderstanding for centuries, which can take a toll on your mental health. Plus, like other inflammatory diseases, it comes with slightly higher risks of depression, especially among those who experience frequent attacks.
Fortunately, practicing mindfulness habits like meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga can help in this area, both with your emotional health and in managing pain. And don’t forget to ask for help when you need it, whether it’s from your support network or a professional.
Finally, if a gout attack strikes, try to stay off the affected joint and keep it elevated as much as possible. If you can stand it, you can even try applying ice. However, even the least amount of pressure can seem unbearable, so do what feels right.
While you rest, continue with the other recommendations outlined in this list:
In most cases, gout symptoms peak within 12-24 hours, but with these tips, they should seem easier to bear.
Do you have gout? Don’t wait for your next attack to see an expert. Contact Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Florida, P.A. in Fort Myers, Florida, to schedule an appointment with Dr. Dupay today.