Arthritis is a wider term that literally means inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis includes several joint related conditions, such as osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. The common denomination in all these types of arthritis is joint pain and inflammation.
Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused due to deposition of uric acid crystals in the joints. This leads to pain, inflammation and swelling of the affected joint. Just like other types of arthritis, gout is characterized by periods of remissions and flare-ups.
The condition is more commonly seen in men than in women. It usually affects middle aged men after the age of 35, and in women, especially after menopause.
Evidence has shown that there has been increase in the number of gout persons all over the world. This is due to the modern dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle.
What is Gout – Definition
Gout is a metabolic disorder that is characterized by recurrent acute joint inflammation usually in the extremities, caused due to the deposition of uric acid crystals in and around the joints. Uric acid is normally excreted in urine. But, in some cases, the mechanism to excrete uric acid crystals is defective. This leads to excess build-up of uric acid in the body which then accumulates around the joints causing painful inflammation of the joint.
However, it is important to remember that not all the persons with high uric acid in their blood (hyperuricaemia) develop gout. But, longer duration and severity of hyperuricaemia increases the risk of developing gout.
What Causes Gout Pain?
Any condition that increases the concentration of uric acid in the blood leads to gout. This may include higher production of uric acid or the reduced elimination of uric acid by kidneys.
In normal conditions, our body steadily excretes uric acid in the urine. However, due to any reason (high production or reduced elimination), the urate levels in the blood rises, and uric acid starts to crystallize as needle-like crystals in the joint fluid (synovial fluid) and joint lining (synovial lining). The deposits are mainly formed in areas where the temperature is low, for example- big toe or extremities.
There are several factors that can be associated with elevated uric acid levels or gout.
Gout is an inherited disorder that runs in family. The inherited gene produces defects in uric acid metabolism.
Certain medications such as diuretic medicines, aspirin and cyclosporins may block the excretion of uric acid in the kidneys.
Diet is another important factor resulting in increase in uric acid levels. Some foods are rich in purine, the building blocks of uric acid in the cells. Food that cause gout include seashells, meat and sweetbread.
Drinking too much alcohol, sweet soda and other drinks containing fructose may also increase the amounts of uric acid in the blood.
People with certain other conditions have an increased risk of developing gout. These include obesity, diabetes mellitus, lipid disorders, bone marrow disorders and certain enzyme defects.
It has been found that estrogen lowers the uric acid levels in the body. Therefore, menopause increases the risk of gout in women.
Gout symptoms foot include swelling and excruciating pain in big toe, which is aggravated at night. The condition can affect one or more joints at one time. Other symptoms include severe pain in the affected joint, aggravated by walking, joint damage caused by uric acid deposition, and in severe cases, destruction of joints and soft tissues surrounding the joints.
Treatment of Gout
Most people often wonder what cures gout. There are several conventional as well as natural gout treatment methods that can help patients manage acute attacks. The objective of the treatment is managing acute gout pain, preventing subsequent attacks and deposition of uric acid in the joints.
The conventional medications are usually given to suppress the acute pain associated with gout, but these medications cause several side effects. Therefore, more and more people are turning to natural and alternative methods of treatment for safe and effective treatment of gout.
Diet provides a natural remedy for gout pain. There are certain foods that help limit the amount of purines in the body. Gout diet should include complex carbs, fruits and veggies, vitamin C products and low fat dairy products. Vegetable and fruit juice also help to detoxify your body and eliminate excess uric acid from the body.
Certain herbs (Cranberry, green tea, turmeric and Devil’s claw) help in reducing inflammation and pain associated with gout. However, consult your physician before starting any herbal remedy.