Everything You Should Know About Gout
What is Gout?
Gout is a serious form of arthritis known to affect the joint areas located in the ankles, knees, wrists, hands, instep, fingers, elbows, and most commonly the big toe. Gout is known to be the most painful rheumatic disease, unlike many other forms of arthritis, gout is caused by inflammation between the joints due to crystal like deposits (trophi) that eventually build up and form as a result of unbalanced uric acid levels and the inability for urines to be dissolved within the bloodstream, causing complications when passing through the kidneys; Which then leads to kidney stones and further complications. Uric acid is associated with the break down of urines in the bloodstream that are produced by certain foods in human tissue. The crystal deposits eventually cause inflammation within the joints as well as swelling, redness, heat, pain, and stiffness. Naturally, uric acid is broken down and dissipates into the bloodstream to be eliminated through the kidneys. High levels of uric acid can cause a serious build up in which the crystals form in between the joints causing the symptoms to start to progress. This stage of gout is known as hyperuricemia.
The Four Stages of Gout
1) Asymptomatic Gout- Elevated levels of uric acid, but no symptoms.
2) Acute Gout- In this stage hyperuricemia has occurred and the crystals are present in the joints, causing sudden pain and swelling. Normally acute attacks occur at night or when stress is present. Drugs, alcohol, and other illnesses can cause more frequent attacks as well. In the beginning stages, the attacks usually last up to ten days, but once an attack has presented itself the number of attacks become more frequent, more painful, and last longer.
3) Interval or Intercritical Gout- This is the period of time in between the attacks, there are no Symptoms.
4) Chronic Tophaceous Gout- This stage is the most painful and most distabiling form and develops over long periods of time. By the time this stage has presented itself the disease has caused permanent damage to the joints and kidneys. This stage doesn't occur as often when a person has received proper treatment for the condition.
Signs and Symtoms
- High uric acid levels in the joint fluids
- More than one attack of acute arthritis
- Sudden onset signs of arthritis; arthritis that develops overnight
- Attack of arthritis in the big toe area
Methods of Treatment
Gout can be treated with many different approaches. The objective is to prevent further attacks, help manage the pain during recurring attacks, and to avoid further build up of tophi. All together these methods aid in preventing long term damage to the kidneys and joints. Commonly, high doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflamatory drugs are used both by injection and by mouth. As a healthy alternative approach to prescription drugs there are commonly known supplements to help balance the levels of uric acid production and dissolution.