Gout: A Unique Form Of Arthritis
While gout is a medical condition that is quite common today, few people realize that it is actually a form of arthritis. Gout is a disease that is characterised by a high level of pain that affects one joint. Usually gout affects the big toe. Approximately 75% of all gout cases occur in the big toe, and intense pain, swelling, stiffness, and a warm feeling are experienced when gout occurs.
The exact cause of gout is unknown, but most scientists agree that the root of the problem lies in the body’s purine metabolism. Purine is a substance that is found within the body. When metabolized, purine becomes uric acid, and an increased level of uric acid production in the body is commonly found in those who suffer from gout. Another factor that may be involved in the development of gout is the lack of proper excretion of uric acid in the body. The proximate cause of gout is the crystallization of the uric acid in the body, which provokes the swelling and intense pain experienced by those with the disease.
There is much controversy when it comes to the development of gout. Many believe that gout is caused by years of alcohol consumption coupled with a lack of proper diet and exercise. People whose diet lacks purine-neutralizing substances such as cherries, strawberries, and celery may be at greater risk of developing gout. Foods that are high in purine should be avoided; sardines, anchovies, scallops, alcohol, and diet soda all have high levels of purine and should be avoided if you wish to reduce your chance of developing the disease.
When the agonizing pain of gout strikes, few solutions are available. The pain is often so intense that simple actions such as placing a blanket over the feet can cause terrible suffering. Warm baths may help to increase circulation in the affected area, which can help to aid swelling and may lead to a decreased amount of crystallization of the uric acid causing the disease. On the other hand, using an ice-pack to help decrease the pain and swelling of gout is a common misconception. Uric acid crystallization is aided by low temperatures, and so using cold packs will only increase the problem.
There are a number of different treatments available to relieve the suffering caused by gout. Common recommendations include a drug named indomethacin as well as the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. NSAIDs are used to decrease inflammation in the affected area, as well as providing an amount of relief from the pain caused by gout. Gout attacks come and go, and they may flare up without warning. Another drug that your doctor may recommend is allopurinol. This helps to reduce the body’s production of uric acid, limiting the amount of crystallization that may occur. If you think that you may have gout, it’s important to talk to your doctor to discuss possible methods of treating the problem.
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