Gout is a severe, complex form of arthritis that develops when your bloodstream accumulates too much uric acid. When this happens, the uric acid dissolves, forming microscopic, spike-like crystals, then exits the bloodstream where it gets stuck in joints and soft-tissues. Just like any other foreign body, your immune system reacts to these crystals by sending white blood cells to the area, which causes inflammation. Inflammation can create areas that are painful, red, swollen, hot, and tender, resulting in the area looking infected.
Gout can affect just about every joint in your body, but it doesn’t stop there. In addition to your joints, gout can also flare up in your tendon sheaths, kidneys, and bursae (thin sacs that act as cushions between bones and soft tissues). Patients with gout have an increased risk of other health problems such as kidney stones, high blood pressure, kidney and heart disease, and more.
This debilitating disease can affect people of all ages and lifestyles. It’s most often diagnosed in men and post-menopausal women, especially those with pre-existing risk factors such as diabetes, high amounts of red meat consumption, alcoholism, kidney or heart disease, and obesity. Gout affects the joints in your body, most often starting in the base of your big toe and then affecting other joints over time. There are two phases to gout attacks:
Each attack may be different in severity and length, but they will get better over time, even without treatment.
Although it isn’t really possible to cure gout, you can minimize the frequency, intensity, and length of gout attacks by making some changes to your lifestyle and incorporating the proper medications. The first step is to recognize your personal triggers, as each patient has different underlying causes for their gout.
The longer you allow your gout to progress before you begin addressing it, the worse and more frequent your attacks will be. Your first flare-up should act as a sort of wake up call that you should try to adopt a healthier lifestyle. If you don’t take the time to deal with it, it will be more difficult to do so later once the attacks have worsened.
Getting your gout under control isn’t something that will be done overnight. But by working closely with you to recognize your individual triggers and providing the right medication for you, we will do our best to get you back to living your best life. You have to live with gout, but you don’t have to live with all the effects of it all the time. By making a few changes to your lifestyle and habits, you can at least partially offset the effects of your gout attacks and lead a more normal, pain-free life.
Doctors Neal and Neal-Kraal are ready to assist you at our Los Alamitos, California location. Schedule a visit with Valerius Medical Group today to start living your best life, even with chronic gout attacks. There’s no reason to let it hold you back!