Gout involves sore inflammation of a joint. The big toe is usually affected, although other joints such as in the hands, wrists, elbows, ankles or knees can also be affected.
The condition is the result of the accumulation of waste material specifically uric acid, which forms tiny crystals in some joints. Uric acid is naturally found in the blood and produced from the breakdown of cells, DNA as well as from food and beverages consumed.
Uric acid is eliminated from the body by the kidneys. Build-up of excess uric acid in the blood occurs if it is not excreted rapidly enough or too much is being generated. The excess can buildup in the joints as urate crystals that can trigger abrupt and severe joint inflammation.
What are the indications
As a form of arthritis, the symptoms of gout occur abruptly and can last for 1-2 weeks.
- Joint pain that can be quite severe
- Swelling around the affected joint along with tenderness to the touch
- Limited joint movement
- Redness and warmth of the skin over the joint
The big toe is usually affected, but can also occur in the wrists, hands, knees, elbows, ankles or any other joint in the body. The frequent episodes of gout can result to lasting damage to the joint and adjacent bone. Over time, recurrent episodes can also result to kidney stones, kidney damage and formation of tophi (solid lumps of urate crystals on the fingers, ears, hands, knees, forearms and elbows).
Gout must be treated right away since it can be painful and capable of causing joint damage if not treated. If an individual has not experienced gout before or the episodes become frequent, a doctor should be consulted.
The treatment involves pain medications such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen, diclofenac or indomethacin.
In some instances, the doctor might prescribe corticosteroids either orally or injected into the affected joint or even colchicine which is effective but causes diarrhea as its side effect. These medications can rapidly relieve the pain and reduce the redness and swelling.
It is also vital to allow the affected joint to rest. In addition, applying an ice pack over the joint and elevation can help ease the pain.