Gout – a unique form of arthritis
While gout is a medical condition that is quite prevalent in modern day society, few realize that it is actually a form of arthritis. Gout is a
disease that is trademarked by a high level of pain that affects one joint. More often than not, gout affects the big toe. Approximately 75% of all gout cases occur in the big toe, and intense pain, swelling, stiffness, and a warm feeling are present when gout occurs. The exact cause of gout is unknown, but most scientists agree that the root of the problem lies in the body’s purine metabolism. Purine is a substance that is found within the body. When metabolized, purine becomes uric acid, and a heightened level of uric acid production in the body is commonly found in those with a gout condition. Another factor that may play into developing gout is a lack of proper excretion of uric acid in the body. The actual problem caused by a gout condition is due to a crystallization of the uric acid in the body, which accounts for the swelling and intense pain experienced by those with the disease.
There is much controversy when it comes to the development of gout. Many believe that gout is caused by years of alcohol consumption coupled with a lack of proper diet and exercise. Those with a diet that lacks purine-neutralizing substances such as cherries, strawberries, and celery may also be more at risk for gout development. Foods that are high in purine should be avoided; sardines, anchovies, scallops, alcohol, and diet soda all have high levels of purine and should be avoided if you wish to decrease your risk of developing gout.
When the agonizing pain of gout strikes, few solutions are available. The pain is often so intense that simple sensations such as placing a blanket over the feet can cause terrible suffering. Warm baths may help to increase circulation in the affected area, which can help to aid swelling and may lead to a decreased amount of crystallization of the uric acid causing the disease. Using an ice-pack to help decrease the pain and swelling of gout is a common misconception. Uric acid crystallization is aided by low temperatures, and using cold packs will only increase the problem.
When discussing a problem with gout with your doctor, there are a number of solutions that they may employ to help to aid your suffering. Common recommendations include a drug named indomethacin as well as the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. NSAIDs are used to decrease inflammation in the affected area, as well as providing an amount of relief from the pain caused by gout. Gout attacks come and go, and they may flare up without warning. Doctors also may recommend the usage of a drug known as allopurinol, which helps to reduce the body’s production of uric acid, limiting the amount of crystallization that may occur. If you think that you may have gout, it’s important to talk to your doctor to discuss possible methods of treating the problem.
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