Understanding gout is very important, but it’s also important to understand that gout exists because gout is a form of arthritis. Therefore, gout arthritis can occur, just as other forms of arthritis can, in many joints in the body aside from the big toe including: elbows, wrists, fingers, knees, ankles, heels, and instep.
Gout is considered to be one of the most painful rheumatic diseases. When uric acid crystal deposits become lodged between two bones of a joint space or connective tissue, or both, the deposits can lead to inflammatory arthritis. Arthritis is characterized by inflammation (heat, redness and swelling), pain and stiffness of a joint. The term arthritis is used to refer to over 100 different rheumatic diseases that affect the tissues, structures, joints, muscles and bones within the body. Gout accounts for an estimated 5% of all arthritis cases.
When you experience a gout attack, you will find that there are different ways you can treat and help alleviate the inflammatory arthritis pain you feel. The following are 7 easy tips to help you treat your gout pain:
1. Apply a cold compress – Applying a cold compress can be beneficial for treating inflammation and reducing swelling especially during the initial attack. Apply a cold compress (I.E. wrap an ice pack, or another frozen item such as a bag of frozen veggies, in a towel) to the affected area. The compress should be kept on the area for 20 minutes maximum, and should be removed for 20 minutes before repeating the process.
2. Warm the affected area – Apply a warm hot water bottle to aching muscles around the area to alleviate stiffness when the attack begins to ease. Do not apply warmth to an inflamed joint as this only makes inflammation worse. Apply the warm item for 30 minutes every 2 – 3 hours. Additionally, immersing the affected area in warm water, or applying a warm moist cloth to the area also provides short-term relief.
3. Stretch – To relieve stiffness and inflammation, stretch the muscles and joints affected by gout arthritis by slowly flexing and rotating them two or three times per day. Only flex and rotate the joint within limits. In other words, as soon as you begin to feel discomfort, try to stretch the joint a little further, but as soon as you feel pain, stop. Exercises such as Yoga and Pilates are known to benefit arthritis sufferers. If you are interested, consult a professional yoga or Pilate’s instructor to learn safe and recommended stretches for your condition.
4. Exercise – Even if you are in pain you need to stay active. Not using the affected muscle, joints, etc. is only going to cause stiffness and make it worse. Exercising in warm water is beneficial for gout arthritis and arthritis in general. When you are immersed in water, your joints are under less stress which helps to alleviate some of the pain you feel. Water provides greater mobility and flexibility. It’s also a good idea to first talk to your doctor to find out if there are any exercises he/she can recommended for your condition. Finally, exercising will also help you control your weight, as being overweight can also aggravate your joints by causing additional stress.
5. Change your diet – eliminate all foods and beverages that are high in purines (I.E. organ meats, yeast and alcohol) from your diet during a gout arthritis flare-up to try and reduce the uric acid levels in your blood.
6. Relax – Get a goodnight sleep, and rest affected joints by keeping them elevated above your heart. Elevation helps to improve blood flow which helps to lessen pain, and discomfort.
7. Medication – NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Naprosyn), etc., are commonly prescribed to treat arthritic pain and inflammation. Many NSAIDs are available over-the-counter. However, you should first speak to your doctor before using NSAIDs as a treatment option.
Remember, though gout arthritis and other forms of arthritis may be similar, they are different because of how arthritis inflammation occurs. Therefore, not all forms of arthritis treatment may be useful to gout sufferers. Which is why it is a good idea to speak to your doctor about treatment options, so you receive the best treatment suggestions for your condition.
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