Gout is a form of an arthritis that can become a debilitating condition if not treated immediately. Arthritis consists of different forms of musculoskeletal disorders affecting the joints, cartilage, muscles, bones and connective tissues in the body. Arthritis can take either an inflammatory or non-inflammatory form. Gout is one that is an inflammatory form of arthritis that mainly affects the big toe. It can also affect the joints of the feet, elbows, hands, knees and ankles. In certain cases, gout can also affect both the tendons and the surrounding soft tissues of the joint.
Most of the time, gout rarely affects multiple joints at a single time. Although it affects one joint, the severity can often result in a debilitating condition. It typically affects larger joints that significantly affect one's ability to perform his activities of daily living. When gout is not treated, its symptoms may last up to a couple of weeks. Women are at the highest risk of gout after menopause while men can become prone to developing gout after reaching the age of 30.
What happens during a gouty arthritis attack?
A gout attack occurs suddenly, with an excruciating pain accompanied by swelling of the big toe. This usually occurs after a trauma to the affected joint, or during an illness or after an injury. The inflammatory response is caused by the deposit of the uric acid crystals that build around the joint, resulting in swelling and pain. When there is an excessive amount of uric acid in the body, a condition called hyperuricemia occurs. Instead of being flushed out of the body by the kidney, they begin to form crystals around the joints and the surrounding soft tissues.
A gout becomes a chronic condition when it begins to affect several joints. There will be subsequent occurrence of pain and swelling as gout attacks more than a single joint. Tophi formation becomes apparent, which is a lump of crystals that forms under the skin and around the joint. It can also form in the kidney as a stone with resulting kidney function.
The symptoms of gouty arthritis
About three quarters of gout condition affects the big toe. The attack is sudden where one may feel feel before going to bed and will suddenly wake up with an excruciating pain in the affected joint. Some describe their symptoms with the feeling of tightness and pressure around the joint. Swelling begins to form and the affected area becomes highly sensitive when touched. The inflammation is usually accompanied with a low grade fever.
Treatment options that can cure gouty arthritis
The main priority for treatment is to relieve the discomfort caused by the gout flare up and to reduce the debilitating consequence of the condition. Preventive measure is often better rather than treatment because the moment the flare up begins to occur, it is expected to progress and may cause significant pain and swelling that can hinder your ability to move the affected joint. It is possible to manage gouty arthritis at home, especially during the early stage of the flare up. By identifying the early symptoms of gout, it is possible to prevent further flare ups that can worsen the condition. The warning signs to watch out for include redness, joint stiffness, swelling and pain around a joint. The pain is easily triggered by a mere light touch to the affected joint in certain cases.
Treatment of gouty arthritis may include taking medication at home to relieve the swelling and inflammation. There are over-the-counter medicines that you can take, such as ibuprofen, celecoxib, naproxen, indomethacin, and meloxicam. However, it is always best to consult your doctor to get a prescription in order to take the medicine safely. Having the affected joint assessed by your doctor is important in order to give your condition the best treatment it needs.
Non-medication options are also available for curing gouty arthritis. The application of a cold compress for at least 20 minutes to the affected joint can relieve the swelling and inflammation. Pain is usually exacerbated by movement. Rest is needed in order to help the joint heal faster and to avoid experiencing the joint pain with movement. Drinking plenty of water can decrease the uric acid level and stabilizes it within the normal range. Avoiding foods with high purine content can significantly cause the uric acid to decrease that can help prevent flare ups.
Preventive care for gouty arthritis
The two most effective means of preventing gouty arthritis flare ups are making a lifestyle modification and the taking of medications. For long term treatment of gout, medication is usually prescribed. Home remedies are usually helpful during the acute stage of the gout and when there is no significant lesion to the joints or to the soft tissue or tendons. Exercising the joints can help strengthen it while drinking a lot of water can wash out the crystal formation around the joint.
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