Having enlarged joints near your toes, fingers, wrists, or ankles may seem normal, but if they become inflamed or painful, you might have gout. To prevent periods of intense pain and tenderness, the experts at West County Rheumatology in Saint Louis provide treatments for gout and suggestions for lifestyle changes to help you remain pain-free. To find out if you have gout, call West County Rheumatology or request your appointment with Sona Kamat, MD, FACR, or another team member, online today.
Gout is a common type of arthritis that appears as a result of a high amount of a substance in your blood called uric acid. Uric acid accumulates around your joints and crystallizes into solid masses called urate crystals.
The most common area for gout is the joint at the base of your big toe. The area often feels completely normal but looks enlarged or deformed. It may become painful and swollen periodically.
Gout appears in several stages:
This is the stage before any gout attacks have happened. Urate crystals begin to form around your joint, and you have a high amount of uric acid in your blood, but you likely don’t know it yet.
Gout attacks often strike at night and often after you drink lots of alcohol, take certain medications, or injure yourself. During a gout attack, the level of uric acid in your blood is high and collides with the urate crystals, causing pain.
Interval gout is the period between gout attacks. During this time, you can postpone more gout attacks and reduce the remaining inflammation by making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Chronic gout appears as gout attacks become frequent, and joint inflammation worsens. When left untreated, chronic gout can lead to permanent damage and a loss of joint mobility.
Uric acid is a natural component in your blood that helps break down certain foods. Normally, your kidneys clear uric acid from your blood, and it’s excreted in your urine. If your body produces too much uric acid or doesn’t eliminate enough, the levels increase.
You might get high levels of uric acid leading to gout through:
If you’re in the early stages of gout, making some changes to your lifestyle is enough to prevent attacks.
If you get frequent gout attacks, the team at West County Rheumatology may prescribe medications to take alongside adjustments to your eating and drinking habits. Treatments that work well to relieve gout pain and inflammation include:
For the best chances at keeping your joints mobile and pain-free, you must follow your treatment plan for gout exactly as the West County Rheumatology team suggests.
To find out if you have gout and to prevent attacks, call West County Rheumatology or book an appointment online today.