3.9 percent of US adults suffer from the pain of gout in any given year, asserts the Centers for Disease Control, and the disorder appears more often in men than women. Unfortunately, many of those with gout do not know how to keep flare-ups at bay. At heart, gout refers to a severe form of arthritis, but the hand surgeons of Florida Hand Center want you to know how you can help prevent gout flare-ups.
What Causes Gout?
Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, gout typically affects the smaller joints of the hands and feet. Gout occurs as urate crystals form between joints within connective tissue. When the body breaks down uric acid, purines are produced, and these substances are usually excreted through the urine, explains the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases However, certain medical conditions or an excess of uric acid consumption, such as eating too many red meats or drinking alcohol in excess, may lead to higher levels of purines in the blood, which may then be deposited on the bones of joints and in cartilage. However, these deposits are not minor bumps, but sharp, needle-like crystals.
How Do You Recognize the Symptoms of Gout?
The signs and symptoms of gout may appear suddenly and without warning, according to the Mayo Clinic. The symptoms may include the following:
- Severe pain in the joints.
- Discomfort in the joints that does not subside after a few days.
- Inflammation, redness, or swelling of the tissues near the joint.
- Limited ability to move the joint.
How Do hand Surgeons Treat Gout?
A hand specialist may use a variety of medications to treat gout attacks, elucidates the Mayo Clinic. These medications may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, colchicines, and corticosteroids. However, these medications may cause certain side effects, such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or changes in blood sugar levels. Some with gout may feel a hand surgeon can remove the crystals through hand surgery. However, this is not a viable option as the crystals may redevelop over time. As a result, the best way to treat gout is to prevent it from growing so severe.
How Can You Prevent Gout Flare-Ups?
In addition to following through with medication treatment or physical therapy remedies to improve circulation and overall health, gout can be proactively managed by making some lifestyle changes, explains the Mayo Clinic. Some of these changes include the following:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet.
- Reducing the consumption of foods with a high purine concentration, such as red meats, seafood, and organ meats.
- Reducing the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- Reducing the consumption of drinks that have high levels of fructose, such as sodas.
- Exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. These measures help to improve circulation and ensure your kidneys remove most purines from your bloodstream.
Gout flare-ups can be debilitating, and certain risk factors may increase your chances of developing this form of arthritis in the future. However, by understanding this disorder and how it affects your body, you can take steps to prevent it from recurring. If you have experienced other hand problems, contact a hand specialist at the Florida Hand Center today.