What is Gout?
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that is characterized by sudden intense pain, swelling and redness in a joint. It usually occurs in the joint at the base of the big toe.
What Causes Gout?
Gout is caused by urate crystals accumulating in the joint.
We all have uric acid in our blood due to our bodies breaking down purines, which are excreted by the kidneys, and found in certain foods such as steak, seafood, organ meats (i.e., liver), as well as alcohol and sweetened drinks containing fructose.
Usually, this acid dissolves in the bloodstream and passes through the kidneys and out through your urine.
But when there are high levels of uric acid in the blood, it can build up, depositing crystals in your joint that cause sharp pain, inflammation and swelling.
Risk factors to be aware of that can lead to gout:
- Rapid weight loss or fasting
- High blood pressure
- Metabolic syndrome
- Heart and kidney diseases
- Certain medications
- Family history
- Gender – men are more likely to get gout
- Age – gout is most common in men between 30 and 50 years of age, and in women after menopause
- Recent surgery or trauma to a joint
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Gout?
Attacks of gout often occur suddenly, and at night.
Common symptoms of gout include:
- Intense joint pain, most commonly in the large joint of your big toe, though it can also occur in the fingers, wrists, elbows, knees and ankles.
- Lasting discomfort. The pain is usually most severe within the first several hours, but pain and discomfort can last from a few days to a few weeks.
- Swelling and redness
- Skin may be shiny or warm
- Limited range of motion
How is Gout Treated?
Treatment for gout usually includes medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), colchicine, or corticosteroids.
Physiotherapy is helpful for people recovering from gout.
Physiotherapy for Gout
Physiotherapy is a drug-free treatment that focuses on reducing pain and improving your range of motion.
Depending on your individual needs, physiotherapy for gout can include:
- Ultrasound therapy
- Laser therapy
- Exercise routine
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
Concerned about symptoms of gout? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.
Can Gout Go Away on its Own?
Unfortunately, attacks will happen again, even though months or years may go by between.
With each attack, the pain will last longer, become more intense, and other joints will start to be affected. Repeated flare-ups can eventually damage the joints and change the way they move and function.
If you experience gout, you will need to see a doctor.
Can You Prevent Gout?
Though gout cannot be cured, you can aim to prevent it through diet and weight management.
- Drink plenty of water and limit alcohol intake (especially beer) as well as drinks sweetened with fructose or high-fructose corn syrup
- Reduce the amount of purine-containing food that you eat, such as meat and seafood
- Get your protein from low-fat dairy products instead, as they may have a protective effect against gout
- Maintain a healthy weight, as losing weight may decrease uric acid levels
Book a Physiotherapy Assessment for Gout Today
Concerned about pain or discomfort after an attack of gout? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.