Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the body, causing crystals to form in joints, and joints to become inflamed and painful. It can be hereditary or result from another condition. Gout usually affects men over 40 with a family history of gout, but it can occur at any time, and also affects women, especially after menopause. Excessive intake of food and alcohol, surgery, infection, physical or emotional stress, or the use of certain drugs can lead to the development of gout.
The body produces too much uric acid, does not excrete enough uric acid, or both. The acid accumulates in tissues in the form of needle-like crystals that cause pain. Uric acid is formed when the body digests purines, compounds found in some foods and beverages, including dried beans, liver, wine, and beer. Gout generally occurs because of a predisposition to the condition, but it can result from blood disorders or cancers, such as leukemia, or the use of certain drugs. Risk factors include:
Your doctor will examine the affected joint, evaluate your pain, and may ask if there is any history of gout in your family. Your doctor may take a sample of fluid from the affected joint, draw blood for a blood test, or take x-rays to rule out other possibilities.
Your doctor may give you ibuprofen or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce pain and swelling. You must avoid alcohol and foods that trigger your attacks. Besides NSAIDs, you may receive other drugs. Colchicine can help treat an acute attack and prevent future attacks but has serious side effects. Corticosteroids, corticotropin, and intra-articular corticosteroids are also used, particularly in people who have contraindications to NSAIDs and colchicine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved other medications to treat gout, including allopurinol (Zyloprim), febuxostat (Ulonic), and pegloticase (Krystexxa). Most rheumatologists use combination therapy to treat acute gout. In a patient without complications, NSAIDs are the preferred therapy. These drugs help control gout but do not cure it.
A combination of therapies can be very effective at reducing both the length and frequency of attacks. When choosing complementary and alternative therapies (CAM) for gout treatment, it is best to work with a knowledgeable provider. Herbs and supplements that may be beneficial for some people, may be harmful for others. If you are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, do not use any CAM therapies unless directed to do so by your physician.
These nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
You may address nutritional deficiencies with the following supplements:
Avoid taking extra niacin and vitamin A. Both may play a role in gout.
Herbs are generally a safe way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your provider before starting any treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, or teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone, or in combination, as noted.
Acupuncture may help manage pain associated with gout.
Although few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic therapies, professional homeopaths may consider the following remedies for the treatment of gout symptoms (such as pain and inflammation) based on their knowledge and experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account your constitutional type, includes your physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate treatment for you individually.
Some of the most common remedies used for gout are listed below. A common dose is 3 to 5 pellets of a 12X - 30C remedy every 1 to 4 hours until your symptoms improve.
Nettle tea compress, applied externally. Use 1 to 2 tsp. per cup of hot water.
If you have had several attacks and the joint is damaged, your doctor may refer you to an orthopedic specialist.
People who have had gout have an increased risk of developing kidney stones, high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, high levels of triglycerides, and atherosclerosis.
Gout is a risk factor for other chronic conditions , including heart attack and cancer, especially prostate cancer. Speak with your physician.
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Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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