How To Tell If You Have Gout
Gout is an inflammatory form of arthritis that is caused by having too much uric acid in the blood. This acid forms into tiny crystals that settle in your joints – most famously the big toe joint.
Gout attacking the great toe happens so commonly it has earned a name; this is called ‘pedagra’. However, the pain from this condition can spread around the body and affect other joints.
Gout usually appears in “attacks -” one can go weeks or months without gout pain, and then a sudden onset of pain strikes seemingly without warning.
Because of this, Gout can be difficult to diagnose and still harder to treat, but it isn’t impossible.
What Are Gout Attacks Like?
Gout attacks cause sudden, sharply painful sensations in the affected joints. Unfortunately, during a gout attack, your pain will be severe. You may also experience swelling, redness, and limited motion in the affected joint.
These attacks can occur very suddenly. People have been known to awaken in the middle of the night with severe pain in their big toe. The affected region may be so tender that the weight of a sheet may feel intolerable.
Gout attacks will usually go away on their own in about 3-10 days, but you can lessen your pain or avoid an attack entirely with treatment.
How To Avoid Gout Attacks
There are several lifestyle changes you can make that will make gout attacks less likely:
- Be sure to exercise and eat a balanced diet to control your weight.
- Follow a diet geared towards the prevention of gout
- Stay hydrated – water can flush out excess amounts of uric acid.
- Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol.
- Eat less red meat. Try to get your protein from low-fat sources, such as greek yogurt and other dairy products, like milk and cheese.
You can also try supplementing your way to better health. Dr. Meredith Warner, the founder of Warner Orthopedics & Wellness, believes that sustainable lifestyle changes have real power to drastically improve your overall well-being.
It’s why she also founded The Healing Sole, an orthopedic flip flop designed to naturally relieve plantar fasciitis pain and other heel pain with every step you take.
One of the products she offers on The Healing Sole website is her new Tart Cherry Extract supplement. Tart cherries have long been used as a natural way to prevent gout flare-ups – and this new extract gives you a standard amount of extracted tart cherry juice, without added sugars.
How Gout Gets Diagnosed
Usually, your doctor will diagnose your condition with something called a joint fluid test. During this test, fluid is taken from the inflamed joint with a needle – and the extracted fluid is studied under a microscope to see if uric acid crystals are there. This is the most accurate method.
Gout can also be diagnosed with a blood test – however, a high level of uric acid in the blood doesn’t always mean gout is present. Additionally, gout can sometimes be missed by falsely negative lower levels of uric acid at the time of the testing. This is a more indirect method to test for gout than a joint tap.
You can also be diagnosed with even less invasive measures, such as an X-ray (which rules out other conditions) or ultrasound (which can look for areas of high uric acid buildup in the joints.)
What To Do During, And After, A Gout Attack
If you have a gout attack, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. You should also apply ice and take over-the-counter NSAID’s (if approved by your physician) to reduce your pain, while elevating the affected joint.
Your doctor may prescribe or inject corticosteroids to ease your pain – and prescribe other medications that block or lessen uric acid production. Typically, acute gout attacks are treated with colchicine and/or indomethacin. Chronic gout is managed with allopurinol.
Looking for gout pain relief? Make your appointment today: