In years past, gout was thought to be a condition that only the very wealthy experienced. It was believed to be caused by eating rich foods, which only the wealthy could afford. Gout is actually a form of arthritis that can affect anyone. It is the result of an overabundance of uric acid in the body.
Symptoms of gout include severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints. It particularly affects the joint at the base of the big toe. People report the sensation of their big toe being on fire. These attacks occur suddenly. They can wake you up in the middle of the night, and the pain can be so intense that the weight of the sheet on your foot can be unbearable.
A variety of drugs are used to treat gout. Successful treatment alleviates the pain of the acute attack, and it prevents future attacks. The risk of complications from gout attacks can also be reduced with treatment. The type of drug used depends on your current state of health and preferences.
Medications Used in Treatment of Gout
Gout medications include the following:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium or stronger medications like Celebrex or Indocin.
- Colchicine is a pain reliever that reduces gout pain. It can have uncomfortable side effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This is most common with larger doses of the drug.
- Corticosteroid medications, like prednisone, may be prescribed to control the pain and inflammation of gout. They can be administered by injection or in pill form. This may be an option for those who cannot tolerate NSAIDs or colchicine.
Untreated gout can lead to complications including ongoing attacks of gout, nodules of urate crystals forming under the skin of your fingers, hands, feet, elbows or Achilles tendon. These nodules are called tophi and though normally not painful, they can become swollen and tender when you have an attack of gout. Kidney stones are also a complication that can develop with untreated gout.
The medications your doctor prescribes will help reduce the pain and may prevent further attacks. You can also make changes to prevent gout from disrupting your life. These include:
- Reducing your intake of alcoholic and sugary beverages containing fructose. Limit your intake of alcohol, especially beer for men, and drink plenty of water.
- Limit your intake of red meat, organ meats and seafood. These foods are high in purines and can lead to attacks of gout.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Get regular exercise and lose weight if necessary. Your risk of gout attacks is lowered when you are at a healthy weight.
Gout can be a very painful condition, but treatment can be highly successful. If you experience the pain of gout or have severe pain in the joint of your big toe, contact Dr. Stuart Mogul for an examination. Diagnosis and treatment can eliminate the pain and discomfort of gout attacks. Call today to make your appointment.