Gout is a form of arthritis, which causes sudden and very painful swelling of the joints. It’s most likely to affect your big toe, although the feet, hands, wrists, elbows and knees can also be particular pain points in someone suffering from gout. An attack normally lasts between five days and a week, and aside from the pain, you’ll probably notice the skin around an affected joint becoming hot, red and swollen.
Gout is more common in men, especially as they age, and it can run in families. You have a higher chance of developing the condition if you’re overweight, drink too much alcohol, take medication for high blood pressure or have experienced an injury or surgery to a limb. Other triggers can include having an illness that leads to higher body temperatures or consuming a diet high in fatty and processed foods.
What treatments are available?
There are certain things you can do in the short-term, such as raising and resting the affected limb, applying ice packs to reduce the swelling and cool it down and trying not to cover it in bedclothes when you’re sleeping. You may also need to see a specialist rheumatologist, who will be able to prescribe prescribe special medications to control the inflammation if gout is a persistent problem.
If you have high uric acid levels in your blood, then gout may become a long-term health issue and flare up every few years or even months. Chronic gout is uncommon, but it can be a very distressing condition to live with given the unpredictable nature of flare-ups. A rheumatologist can help you manage gout and lower the uric acid levels in your blood, which will also prevent the kidney stones which often accompany gout.
How and when should I seek help?
Gout may not be life-threatening, but the sooner you seek help, the sooner you can begin a course of treatment that will reduce the pain and minimise the risk of a repeat attack. Dr Stephanie Barrett provides some of the most advanced gout treatment in London, and is a specialist rheumatologist with many years of experience. For a consultation or further advice, please get in touch today.