What is Gouty Arthritis?

Gouty Arthritis, also known as Gout Arthritis, is another commonly known form of arthritis that affects about 4% of Americans. More specifically, gouty arthritis is currently prevalent in about 8 million adults in the United States. Six million of those diagnosed with the disease are male. Gouty Arthritis is often categorized as a type of inflammatory arthritis because of its ability to cause mild to severe swelling and inflammation around the joints. This inflammation is the result of excess amounts of uric acid in the body that cause crystals to form on the joints. This in turn, leads to sudden tenderness and redness. The hard uric acid crystals can impair movement and cause severe discomfort and pain. If left untreated, Gouty Arthritis can lead to persistent and worsening symptoms and even immobility.

What are the causes of Gouty Arthritis?

Gouty Arthritis is a disease that appears suddenly without much warning. High levels of uric acid are the primary indicators of the disease. While uric acid is naturally found in the body, overproduction of it can cause build up in the joints and the kidneys. This, in turn, leads to the formation of crystals that are embedded around joints. This is seen primarily in joints located around the ankle, the big toe, and the foot.

Gout Disease
What are the symptoms of Gouty Arthritis?

Common symptoms of Gouty Arthritis include joint pain, inflammation, redness, and tenderness. A common indicator of the disease involves the offset of attacks, which cause severe pain and inflammation on the joints located primary on the foot. These symptoms can last anywhere from one to ten days and occur once every few years. These attacks can become more prevalent as the disease progresses.

Progression of Gouty Arthritis is categorized into four different stages, depending on the severity. Stage 1 is called Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia and usually involves no physical symptoms. The only indicator of the disease at this specific stage is the high uric acid levels in the blood. Stage 2 is called Acute Gout Attack and involves the buildup of uric crystals around the joints, which leads to the attacks. This first attack serves as a primary indicator of the disease. The third stage is called Intercritical Gout. During this time, attacks become more frequent and symptoms become more persistent. Stage 4 of the disease is called Chronic Tophaceous Gout. At this stage, the buildup of the uric crystals can lead to immobility and deformity of the joints. Being alert of your symptoms and seeking medical help as soon as possible can prevent the disease from progressing to Stage 4.

How is it diagnosed?

Pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness of the joints are usually the primary indicators of the disease. Gouty Arthritis involves attacks, which cause severe swelling and pain in the joints that can last one to several days. To properly diagnose the disease, doctors will perform a physical test to pinpoint the affected areas. Other imaging tests, including ultrasounds and CT scans, have also been proven helpful in locating the uric crystals in the muscles. Removing the joint fluid using a needle and studying it under the microscope is also another popular method doctors use to validate the presence of the crystals. A blood test will also be performed for proper measurement of uric acid levels in the body.

Who is affected by Gouty Arthritis?

As seen with other types of arthritis, genetics also play an important role in the development of the disease. A family history of the disease increases the risk of development. Women are less likely to develop the disease do to their estrogen levels, while males are more susceptible. Obesity and other health issues, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes also increase the risk of Gouty Arthritis.

There are certain triggers that can also influence the development of Gouty Arthritis. Joint injury, surgery, chemotherapy, and some infections are said to trigger the disease. Certain medications, such as cyclosporine, can also prompt the symptoms of Gouty Arthritis.

Certain everyday life activities and regimes might also influence the progression of the disease. Lifestyle choices such as fasting and following of certain crash diets also serve as possible triggers. Persistent consumption of alcohol and some sodas might increase the risk of developing the disease. Following a diet that relies on large amounts of shellfish and red meats can also make one more susceptible to Gouty Arthritis.

Treatment and self care

Fortunately, Gouty Arthritis is curable with the help of certain medications and lifestyle changes. Commonly, those suffering from the disease will likely be advised to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. To combat pain and inflammation on the joints doctors will often prescribe colchicines. If over-the-counter medication and colchicines are unable to reduce the pain and inflammation, Corticosteroids are often prescribed.

Being that Gouty Arthritis is caused by the overproduction of uric acid, treatment drugs aiding in uric acid removal might also be prescribed. These medications can vary depending on the doctor and the severity of the disease. In addition to stabilizing uric acid levels, these medications are also helpful in preventing future Gouty Arthritis attacks.

Certain lifestyle changes can make a huge difference when it comes to the prognosis of the disease. Consistent exercise can improve mobility as well as improve physical and mental health. Since obesity is one on the primary risk factors of Gouty Arthritis, it is important to commit to an exercise routine in order to lose the extra weight.

Consulting with a dietitian or a nutritionist can also be beneficial in maintaining a healthy weight. Limiting the consumption of alcohol and sugary sodas and increasing water intake can make a huge difference when it comes to the treatment of Gouty Arthritis. Practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditations, can also promote physical and mental health.