Gout Symptoms and Treatment in Gaithersburg, MD
What is gout? Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis characterized by sudden, recurrent burning pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints, particularly in the big toe. It is caused by too much uric acid building up in the body, which leads to sharp uric acid crystal deposits in your joints. Gout can affect anyone, though men are more commonly affected than women, and women's susceptibility to getting gout increases after menopause.
Gout causes unneeded, excessive pain. It is also serious and can cause other painful conditions such as kidney stones. Alleviate your joint pain—schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Gaithersburg to discuss gout symptoms and treatment options with you. Call (410) 204-2254 or contact Dr. Karen Clarke-Bennett online.
The excessive buildup of uric acid is typically the most common of the known causes of gout. Uric acid is derived from the breakdown of substances called purines, which are found in your body's tissues and also in foods such as liver, dried beans, peas and anchovies. Generally, gout is associated with high levels of uric acid in the blood; however, this doesn't always cause gout, but rather, when excessive uric acid causes the formation of hard crystals in your joints, gout may ensue. Your chance of developing gout increases if:
- You are overweight
- You drink alcohol excessively (especially beer)
- You eat a purine-heavy diet, or your diet is high in meat and seafood and beverages sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose)
- You have an enzyme defect inhibiting the breakdown of purines
- You are exposed to lead in the environment
- You have previously had an organ transplant
- You are on medications such as diuretics, aspirin, cyclosporine or levodopa
- You have a family history of gout
The most common gout symptom is the gout attack: sudden, severe joint pain which usually affects the big toe, though you may experience pain in your feet, ankles, knees, hands and wrists. Duration of pain, on the other hand, will likely be most severe within the first 4-12 hours of being affected. Other symptoms of gout include:
- Lingering discomfort: Most pain subsides after 12 hours, though you may experience successive joint discomfort, lasting anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, while later attacks are likely to last longer and affect more joints.
- Inflammation and redness: Gout-affected joints may become swollen, tender, warm and red.
- Limited range of motion: As gout progresses, you may experience reduced joint mobility.
A physical exam as well as a discussion of your symptoms will take place first. Your healthcare provider will likely elect to perform a joint fluid test in which a sample of fluid is taken from your affected joint to inspect for uric acid crystals. Alternatively, your healthcare provider may conduct a blood test to measure the amount of uric acid in your blood.
If you are diagnosed with gout, treatment could include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), colchicine or corticosteroids to relieve joint inflammation, while other medications may be prescribed to prevent uric acid production or to help the body eliminate uric acid. Your healthcare provider will also likely recommend a gout diet which limits alcohol and sugary beverages consumed and also limits foods that are high in purines (such as red meat, organ meats and seafood). As part of your gout diet, your healthcare provider may also recommend incorporating foods which may have the ability to lower your uric acid levels like coffee, cherries, flaxseeds and foods higher in vitamin C. Exercising regularly and losing weight are also healthy lifestyle changes to support sustained relief from gout.
Don't surrender to gout pain. Schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare provider in Gaithersburg that specializes in gout treatment. Call (410) 204-2254 or contact Dr. Karen Clarke-Bennett online.
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