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Gout is a kind of arthritis. It can cause an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, most often affecting the big toe, knee, and wrist joints. These attacks can happen over and over unless gout is treated. Over time, they can harm your joints, tendons, and other tissues. Gout is most common in men.
Osteoarthritis and gout are sometimes mistaken for one another, as both diseases are characterized by swelling and inflammation, Gout, however, is different because it occurs when the body can’t get rid of a natural substance called uric acid, which is composed of of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen. The excess uric acid forms needle – like crystals in the joints that cause swelling and severe pain. This does not occur in typical osteoarthritis. While some treatments for gout and osteoarthritis are similar, gout requires specific medications in order to decrease uric acid build up in the body.
Gout is caused by having too much uric acid in your blood. Having high levels of uric acid is not harmful in and of itself, and many people who do have high levels of uric acid in their blood will never get gout. When uric acid levels are very high, however, the uric acid can form into hard crystals in your joints, which is the defining feature of gout.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) some arthritis risk factors you can’t change, and others you have control over:
What you can’t change:
What you can change:
In most cases, arthritis is diagnosed with:
Symptoms of gout include:
The severity of gout attacks and the rate of their recurrence can be suppressed with appropriate treatment. In doing so, the long-term consequences of the disease can most often be prevented.
The following lifestyle changes can help you deal with gout:
In general a doctor screens for arthritis by looking at symptoms such as pain, swelling and stiffness in the joint. Blood tests can help diagnose arthritis, monitor treatments, track disease activity and eliminate the possibility of other diseases. X-rays and other imaging tests can see if the painful joint is narrowed or has bone spurs.
Some forms of arthritis such as RA can’t be prevented. The Arthritis Foundation (AF) makes the following recommendations to protect joints:
The following medications can be used to control the severity and frequency of gout attacks:
DO NOT TAKE ASPRIN DURING A GOUT ATTACK. Aspirin changes uric acid levels in the blood and may make the attack worse.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) researchers have found little conclusive evidence that any dietary supplements including the much touted Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – as well as any herbal remedies – help with OA, RA, or gout symptoms or the underlying course of arthritis. If you are taking any supplements, tell your doctor
You can take steps to care for your body if you have gout. These self-care measures may help you manage your symptoms
Speak with your doctor about surgical options
If you have the following symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor:
Your primary physician may refer you to a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in arthritis and other inflammatory conditions of the joints. You’ll also likely be referred to a radiologist, a doctor that uses imaging technologies such as X-ray, CT scans, and MRIs. If your doctor or specialist determines that surgery is needed you will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon. Orthopedic surgeons are trained in surgery connected to conditions of the musculoskeletal system
If your doctor has diagnosed arthritis, these questions can help you understand your condition:
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