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Gout (Joint Pain)


What is Gout?

Gout is a primarily a condition in the joint that is caused by the excessive concentration of high uric acid crystals within the joint cartilage, synovial fluid and tissue. These crystals can cause intense pain whenever the area of the buildup is moved. Gout is a type of arthritis but has completely different causes than other forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. Gout occurs primarily in men but can affect women as well. Approximately 5 million Americans suffer from gout.

Symptoms of Gout?

Typical symptoms of gout can include sudden, excruciating, burning or sharp joint pain, swelling, loss of mobility, redness, and needle like pain in joints. Most gout sufferers experience their first symptom in the big toe. Additional symptoms may also appear in other joints such as the elbow, fingers, ankle, wrist or spine as well as feeling symptoms of fever and chills. For example, a blanket or even the lightest sheet draped over the affected area can cause extreme pain. Gout can also cause inflammation of the tissues around the joint. This can cause the skin to become swollen, tender, warm and irritated even when slightly touched like from a blanket or piece of clothing touching the affected area.

 

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What Causes Gout?

Gout is caused in most cases by an excessive buildup of uric acid crystals within the joints. Most initial gout attacks occur at night and transpire after an event like drinking excessive alcohol, a trauma, a surgery or from certain drugs. In eastern medicine philosophies, it is believed that body imbalance may lead to poor uric acid metabolism and if the body is not breaking these uric acid crystals down efficiently, then they can become stored in the joints. Poor lifestyle choices like obesity, rich foods, high meat consumption and alcohol can contribute to gout attacks. Foods that are high in purines can cause uric acid levels to rise in the body. Purines are a specific chemical compounds found in certain foods.

What are Common Treatments for Gout?

When gout attacks occur, most western trained medical doctors give their patients two common drug treatments: either non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also known as NSAIDs) or corticosteroids. Some commonly prescribed NSAIDS are diclofenac, etoricoxib, indomethacin, ketoprofen, naproxen or sulindac.1 These drug treatments are usually taken orally or injected into the affected joint. While NSAIDs and corticosteroids may reduce the inflammation caused by deposits of uric acid crystals in the joints, they have no effect on the amount of uric acid in the body which still can be elevated.

What about Natural Dietary Support for those with Gout?*

In eastern medicine, practitioners of traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) use herbal combinations to support the bodys own health mechanisms. Many of the TCM herbs have been used successfully for hundreds of years to offer specific body support. According to the book Alternative Medicine many researchers believe that a proper balance of vitamins and minerals is essential in the treatment of all arthritis This book describes several natural ingredients that may provide health benefits for those with forms of arthritis such as gout. This book also states that whole (unprocessed) foods are rich in the nutrients needed to fight destructive free radicals, enhance tissue health, repair bones, joints, muscles, and promote bowel regularity. Drinking sufficient water everyday may also help to flush out toxins like excessive uric acid.*

Additional Information

All prescription and non-prescription pharmaceutical drugs can have side effects. When considering taking a drug for gout, be sure to educate yourself by reading either the side effects label on the drug that you are considering or reading the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR). Also, even if you are considering taking an aspirin, ask your doctor about side effects since aspirin can make gout worse by raising the uric acid level in the body. On another note, some people, who believe they have Gout, actually may have other forms of arthritis such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis so proper diagnosis is important.*

 

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Gout Resources:

  1. Musculoskeletal and joint diseases chapter 10.1.4 Acute attacks of gout". British National Formulary (56 ed.). September 2008. p. 564.
  2. Alternative medicine : the definitive guide / Larry Trivieri, Jr. and John W. Anderson, editors, 2002. [615.5 ALTERNAT 2002]
  3. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/gout.html
  4. http://www.medicinenet.com/gout/
  5. http://www.ucsfhealth.org/adult/medical_services/arthritis/gout/conditions/gout/

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