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Arthritis Explained

Gout (Crystal Arthritis)



What is Gout (Crystal Arthritis)?

Gout is also known as Crystal Arthritis. It is an extremely painful condition that affects around 60 people in every 100,000. It affects men more than women and it becomes more prevalent as we get older. The first attack of Gout mainly occurs in men aged 30 to 60 years.

Gout classically affects the big toe, but can affect soft tissues around a joint. The affected joint becomes hot, swollen and incredibly painful for no apparent reason. The pain can be so bad that the sufferer may be awoken from sleep. Touching the joint is often excruciating and it may not be possible to wear a shoe because of the pain.

Attacks of Gout may last for a few days or a few weeks before gradually resolving. 80% of people who suffer an attack will have a repeat attack, possibly in another joint, within two years.

How does Gout cause Pain?

Gout is caused by the formation of Urate Crystals within a joint. An attack of Gout is often preceded by an increase in the level of Uric Acid in the blood. This increased level of Uric Acid in the blood is mostly due to a lack of Uric Acid filtration and excretion by the kidneys, although in a small number of cases it may be related to dietary sources of Purine, which is converted to Uric Acid excessively.

High blood levels of Uric Acid can infiltrate the joints as crystal deposits of Monosodium Urate. These Urate Crystals cause the inflammatory reaction that produces the painful symptoms of Gout.

What should you do if you suffer from Gout?

Refer to a Consultant Rheumatologist for specialist care. Anti-inflammatory medication, together with Ice Packs can help to relieve the symptoms of an attack. Low dose Corticosteroids may be prescribed to prevent further Gout attacks and there are medications that can lower the level of Uric Acid in the blood.

Reduce dietary intake of foods containing Purine (beans, lentils, shellfish and red meats) as Purine is broken down into Uric Acid.

Vitamin C has been shown to help reduce blood levels of Uric Acid. Reduce alcohol intake, particularly beer which has a high Purine content.

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