Gout

Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center

Rheumatology & Metabolic Bone Disease & Osteoporosis Specialists located in Wyomissing, PA

Gout attacks can appear out of nowhere, causing intense pain and swelling in a joint — usually the joint in your big toe. After an initial attack, your symptoms will improve, but it’s still important to have the joint examined by the team at Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center. Gout can continue to flare and potentially damage the joint. Some people require medications to prevent uric acid, the cause of gout, from building up. To receive excellent gout treatment, call the office in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.

Gout Q & A

 

What is gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in your joints. You can develop gout in any joint, but uric acid most often accumulates in parts of your body that are slightly colder compared to your core temperature. 

The most common site is the joint at the base of your big toe. Gout also frequently develops in the midfoot, ankle, knee, and elbow joints. It is an extremely painful condition that can cause permanent joint damage.

Uric acid is naturally produced in your body when it metabolizes substances called purines. When you eat purine-containing foods, uric acid can end up as a waste product in your body as the purines are digested and metabolized.

Excess uric acid is usually eliminated in your urine. However, if you produce too much uric acid, or too much uric acid waste stays in your body, it accumulates in your bloodstream. When blood levels are high, uric acid ends up settling in a joint.

 

What increases your risk for gout?

Some factors are hereditary, but others can be controlled. The following factors can increase your risk for gout:

  • Medications, including low-dose aspirin, diuretics, and nicotinic acid
  • Medical conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure
  • Eating too many high-purine foods, such as red meat, shellfish, and organ meats

If gout runs in your family, you may also inherit a genetic tendency to develop the condition.

 

What symptoms develop due to gout?

Gout appears suddenly and most often at night while you sleep. The affected joint becomes red, swollen, and extremely painful. While your acute symptoms get better in about 10 days, you may continue to have joint discomfort for weeks.

It’s common to develop recurrent gout attacks.  Some people develop recurrent, painful flare-ups. 

The condition also worsens as uric acid crystals become permanently implanted in the joint. Over time, these uric acid deposits, called tophi, cause joint damage.

 

How is gout treated?

Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center may recommend limiting high-purine foods and drinking plenty of water to help flush out excess uric acid. The primary treatment for gout, however, includes lifestyle modifications (weight loss, diet) and sometimes medications.

Some medications treat acute flare-ups by reducing pain, inflammation, and swelling. The team may also prescribe one of several medications that prevent future gout attacks by lowering uric acid production or increasing the amount eliminated from your body. 

For severe cases of gout, Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center provides KRYSTEXXA® (pegloticase) treatments.

If you develop sudden pain and swelling in a joint, call Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center to schedule an appointment. In most cases, the team can see patients on the same day for a flare-up or offer treatment over the phone.