Gout: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that results from the build-up of uric acid crystals in the joints. The condition is characterized by sudden and severe attacks of pain, swelling, and tenderness in the affected joint. Gout most commonly affects the big toe, but it can also affect other joints, such as the ankles, knees, elbows, and wrists.

Uric acid is a waste product that is produced when the body breaks down purines, which are substances found in many foods and drinks, including red meat, shellfish, and alcohol. When the levels of uric acid in the blood become too high, they can form sharp crystals that accumulate in the joints and cause inflammation.

Certain foods can affect gout by increasing the levels of uric acid in the body, which can lead to the formation of urate crystals in the joints and cause painful gout attacks. Foods that are high in purines, such as red meat, organ meats, shellfish, and some types of fish, can increase uric acid levels.

Foods and drinks that are high in fructose, such as sugary drinks and some types of fruit, can also raise uric acid levels. On the other hand, some foods and drinks, such as low-fat dairy products, vegetables, and coffee, have been shown to have a protective effect against gout.

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing gout, such as a family history of the condition, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and kidney disease. Men are also more likely than women to develop gout.

Treatment for gout typically involves managing pain and inflammation during an attack with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids. Long-term management of gout may involve medications to reduce the production or increase the elimination of uric acid, as well as lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding trigger foods and drinks, and staying hydrated.

Without proper treatment, gout can lead to joint damage and other complications. However, with appropriate management, most people with gout are able to control their symptoms and prevent future attacks. If you suspect that you have gout, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. 

If you have gout, it's important to exercise regularly to maintain joint flexibility, strengthen the muscles around the affected joint, and manage your weight. However, it's important to exercise in a way that doesn't trigger gout attacks or cause further joint damage. Here are some tips for exercising with gout:

  1. Consult with a healthcare professional: Before starting any new exercise routine, it's important to consult with your healthcare professional, who can advise you on the types of exercise that are safe for you to do.

  2. Choose low-impact exercises: Low-impact exercises, such as swimming, cycling, and walking, can help you stay active without putting excessive stress on your joints. Avoid high-impact exercises, such as running and jumping, which can exacerbate gout symptoms.

  3. Warm up and cool down: Always take the time to warm up before exercising and cool down afterward to reduce the risk of injury and ease joint stiffness.

  4. Avoid overexertion: Don't push yourself too hard, especially if you're experiencing joint pain or stiffness. Start with shorter exercise sessions and gradually increase the duration and intensity as your body allows.

  5. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated and help your body eliminate excess uric acid.

  6. Wear appropriate footwear: Make sure you wear comfortable, supportive shoes that fit well and provide adequate cushioning for your feet and joints.

  7. Monitor your symptoms: Pay attention to how your body feels during and after exercise, and modify your routine if you experience pain or swelling in your joints.

By following these guidelines, you can stay active and fit while managing your gout symptoms.

Let's talk more about how lack of movement & food can affect gout and what steps you can take to manage this condition. Comment below and share your experiences or questions, and let's start a conversation

Donna M., Exercise Physiologist 

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