Gout Problems and Pain: Not Just a Disorder of the Past

Gout pain

Historically, gout was always a condition that seemed to afflict the wealthy aristocracy in Europe. We would read about kings and emperors that suffered from gout and probably assumed it was an illness of the past. Gout is a condition that exists today and is actually a form of arthritis. It is due to a build-up of uric acid in the joints and is actually one of the few disorders that can be reduced through a change in diet. 

Gout is gender specific, as men have a higher likelihood of getting gout than women, however, women are susceptible when they reach post-menopausal age. The symptoms of gout typically appear with the sensation of extreme hot fire in the toe area. The toe joint may be swollen, hot and have such a level of tenderness that even a light weight sheet may be intolerable to place on the foot.

The pain symptoms of gout seem to occur at night and with little or no warning. They symptoms can include extreme joint pain most often in the toe but it can also occur in the knees, ankles, feet, wrists and hands. The highest level of pain happens within the first 4-12 hours after the onset. Even after the pain subsides, there is a lingering discomfort that can last from a few days to weeks. As the disorder progresses each attack will be longer in duration and may have an effect on other joint areas. Redness and inflammation of the joints is a common external symptom. They may be tender, swollen, red and warm to the touch. As gout progresses there is a limited range of motion.

As indicated above, gout is caused by a high uric acid level. Urate crystals can accumulate in the joints and are found in food substances such as organ meats, steak and seafood. The promotion of uric acid can occur due to drinking some fluids such as beer and fructose sweetened drinks. While the body normally produces uric acid, it is usually dissolved in the blood and passes through the kidneys. Too much uric acid cannot be broken down and it therefore produces the urate crystals that cause the problems.

Beyond diet, there are a number of other potential reasons for developing gout. People that are overweight have a tendency to produce higher uric acid in the blood stream. Certain medications can cause the body to have difficulties processing the natural uric acid. Some medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney and heart disease can contribute to the buildup of uric acid. Family history can include a susceptibility to the condition of gout. Recent surgery or trauma to the joint areas can leave the body in a vulnerable condition for uric acid buildup. It is important to get a diagnosis from a primary medical provider to ensure that your symptoms are caused by gout.

Natural health practitioners recommend that you eliminate as much sugar as possible, including alcohol, as well as losing weight. Exercise has benefits that assist in the reduction of gout, however, you should only do this when you are out of pain. There have been some studies that show tart cherries as well as strawberries contain natural elements can assist in the reduction of gout, but more research is necessary prior to making any recommendation or claims.

Always confer with a primary care physician prior to making any changes in lifestyle, including the addition of supplements, vitamins or any OTC product.