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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 the result of 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 symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
What Causes It?
The body produces too much uric acid, doesn't excrete enough uric acid, or both, so that 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:
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
Your health care provider will examine the affected joint, evaluate your pain, and may ask if there is any history of gout in your family. Your health care provider 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 health care provider may give you ibuprofen or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to help with the 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 patients who have contraindications to NSAIDs and colchicine. 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.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
A combination of therapies can be very effective at decreasing both the length and frequency of attacks. When choosing complementary and alternative therapies 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.
Nutrition and Supplements
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 some attacks of gout.
Herbs are generally a safe way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider before starting any treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, 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 - 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 - 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 - 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 inflamation) based on their knowledge and experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account your constitutional type -- 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 - 5 pellets of a 12X to 30C remedy every 1 - 4 hours until your symptoms improve.
Nettle tea compress, applied externally. Use 1 - 2 tsp. per cup of hot water.
If you have had several attacks and the joint is damaged, your health care provider 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.
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Review Date: 3/4/2012
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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