Down and Out With Gout? Here’s What You Should Know.
Gout, a chronic condition that worsens over time, causes sudden attacks of intense pain, swelling, and / or redness in the joints. Though it most commonly strikes in the joints of the big toe, gout can affect other areas. Thankfully, symptoms can be controlled for pain-free living. But, what is the condition exactly, and what doctor treats gout? What treatments are available? Here’s what our gout doctors want you to know!
What Is Gout?
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects approximately 2% of people in the United States. The condition develops when too much uric acid accumulates in the bloodstream and forms microscopic spike-like crystals in joints or soft tissues. It can affect smaller joints in the fingers, toes, wrists, and ankles, and large joints including the knees and hips.
The body reacts to uric acid crystals as though they were a foreign body or bacteria. White blood cells and other infection-fighting cells race to the area, which can cause it to become red, swollen, hot, and / or tender. It can be extremely painful, and an attack can last for several days. About 90% of gout patients rank their pain level as a 9.5 or 10 on a pain scale.
So gout is caused by excess uric acid, but what causes too much uric acid to accumulate?
Uric acid is produced when the body breaks down purines, substances naturally found in the body and in protein-rich foods such as steak and organ meats. High levels of uric acid are also in alcoholic beverages, particularly beer, and sugary drinks. Both yeast and fructose increase uric acid levels.
A research study was conducted by Hyon Choi, MD clinical associate professor of medicine in rheumatology at Boston University School of Medicine. He discovered that participants who consumed two or more sugar- or fructose-sweetened sodas each day had an 85% increased risk in developing gout.
If uric acid levels remain high over a long period of time, deposits can develop around joints and tendons. The chalky deposits look like white toothpaste and can create visible lumps under the skin. When gout progresses over years to this chronic stage, joints may have permanent deformities. You may also experience persistent pain, as well as bone, cartilage and / or kidney damage. Most gout patient guests do not progress to this advanced, debilitating stage.
Are You at Risk of Developing Orthopedic Gout?
You are if you:
- Are between the ages of 30 and 45
- Are overweight
- Consume a diet high in sugar and / or meat, seafood, or other high-purine foods
- Have a family history of gout
- Suffer from certain health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or kidney disease
- Take certain medications such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers, and low-dose aspirin
What Doctor Treats Gout? Do Orthopedics Treat Gout?
There are various types of doctors that can treat gout, including your primary care provider, a rheumatologist, a podiatrist, and an orthopedic specialist. Yes, orthopedics treat gout. In fact, they are often the provider of choice for this condition. Orthopedic providers have a lot of experience diagnosing and treating this joint disorder, as their area of expertise is joint disease.
When Should I Schedule a Consult for Gout?
If you are at risk for developing gout, even if you have not experienced any symptoms, you may want to book a consultation to be screened for this condition. If you have gout symptoms, regardless of your risk factors, you should book a consult for gout. Be sure to choose a specialist who offers orthopedic care when searching for a gout doctor or physician assistant (PA) to ensure the most comprehensive care.
How Can I Reduce Gout Symptoms? What Are the Treatment Options?
Orthopedic gout treatment focuses on pain management during acute attacks, preventing future gout attacks, and reducing the risk of developing permanent joint damage. Medications may be prescribed to lower uric acid levels to reduce and prevent joint destruction.
Long-term medications are typically prescribed to patients who have:
- Gouty joint arthritis
- Kidney damage or repeated kidney stones
- More than three gout attacks a year
- Severe and / or debilitating gout attacks
People who develop destructive arthritis related to chronic gout may be helped with surgery.
In addition to the prescribed treatment plan recommended by your orthopedist, there are lifestyles changes you can make to help prevent gout attacks and its subsequent joint damage from chronic flareups:
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Drink plenty of water to help flush uric acid.
- Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol, especially beer.
- Consume a healthy diet with the right balance of protein.
For Orthopedic Gout Doctors / Specialists, Turn to Direct Orthopedic Care (DOC)
Whether you’re in the middle of a painful gout flareup and need immediate care or you want to book a consult for gout screening, choose the outstanding providers here at DOC! Call us today at 855-921-0799 to schedule an appointment, or book a TeleHealth visit now. You can be sure you’ve “gout” our full attention and that we’ll work hard to keep your joints mobile and pain free!
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