While any form of arthritis can cause discomfort, pain from gout is often sudden and severe. The good news is there are a variety of treatment options available.
At our office, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Dr. Jeremy Woodson and our highly skilled team work with everyone from elite athletes to senior citizens to provide innovative, evidence-based orthopedic procedures as well as preventive care. We can treat a variety of shoulder and knee issues as well as joint problems caused by gout and sports injuries to bring you the relief you need.
A type of arthritis, gout frequently comes on quickly and painfully. It strikes the joints — commonly at the base of the big toe — and includes redness, swelling, and tenderness. Other joints that can be affected are the knees, ankles, elbows, wrists, and fingers.
The pain tends to be the most severe during the initial four to 12 hours after it starts, with discomfort lasting anywhere from several days to a few weeks. Flares can come and go over time, with subsequent attacks potentially lasting longer and afflicting more joints.
Gout occurs when the body either creates too much uric acid or the kidneys filter out too little. That results in high levels of uric acid in the blood that can cause urate crystals to accumulate in the joints leading to inflammation and pain.
Getting a proper diagnosis is key to preventing future problems such as a recurrence, which can lead to the joint becoming eroded and destroyed, nodules of urate crystals forming under the skin known as tophi, and kidney stones. A joint fluid test can be used to withdraw fluid from the joint to determine if urate crystals are visible, while a blood test can provide the levels of uric acid and creatinine in the blood. An X-ray can rule out joint pain from another cause.
There are several treatment options for gout.
Medications are often used to treat gout and prevent a recurrence. Possibilities include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can be bought over-the-counter, as well as several prescription-strength options.
Colchicine is another kind of pain reliever that may be recommended to help reduce pain. If these aren’t effective, corticosteroids are an option.
For people who experience recurrent gout attacks or have experienced more severe complications like joint damage, tophi, or kidney stones, other medications can be prescribed. These may include drugs to limit the body's uric acid production or medications that aid the kidneys in removing uric acid.
While medications are the most effective treatment, making lifestyle changes may also help. These include watching your intake of alcoholic beverages, drinks sweetened with fructose, and foods like red meat and seafood high in purines (which lead to higher levels of uric acid when the body breaks it down). Exercise to lose weight, if applicable, to maintain a healthy weight can also reduce the risk.
If you have joint pain and suspect gout, call our office today at 405-233-3602 for an appointment to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.