Diagnosed with Gout? 5 Important Management Tips

Gout is one of the most common types of arthritis, with about eight million people in the US diagnosed. Most of the time, gout affects the joint of your big toe, though other joints can be involved. Almost everyone who has gout has comorbidities such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney dysfunction, heart disease, or high cholesterol. 

At Rheumatology Solutions, our providers know that gout is more than a pain in the toe. It’s a chronic disease that can be difficult to manage. If you have a flare-up, you need to know what you can do to get some relief. 

Here are five tips to help you get through a flare-up. Many of them may also help you avoid future flares. 

1. Take medication

Hopefully, you already know what you can and can’t take, and you have something on hand. Aspirin can make a flare worse, so avoid that, but NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen and naproxen can help reduce inflammation and ease pain.

If you’re regularly taking uric-reducing medication, continue taking it as directed. 

2. Ice and elevate

Ice eases inflammation, swelling, and pain. Use an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel for 20-30 minutes several times each day, beginning as soon as you notice the pain and swelling. 

Elevation is another effective way to reduce swelling. Use pillows to prop your foot up, above the level of your heart. 

3. Get hydrated

In about 90% of cases, people with gout have kidneys that don’t properly remove enough uric acid from their bodies -- the other 10% produce too much uric acid. 

Uric acid is the cause of your pain. It builds up in the joint of your big toe, far from your heart, and crystallizes. Those crystals irritate and damage your joints. 

Drinking plenty of fluids can help flush the uric acid out of your body. Aim for about 128 ounces of fluid each day, and make 64 of those water. 

4. Follow the gout diet

Uric acid forms when your body breaks down a substance called purine. Some foods have much more purine than others. Avoiding those foods can be helpful, especially during a flare-up. 

Along with avoiding foods rich in purine, you should aim to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet rich in lean protein, vegetables, and fruits. Doing so may help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, which could also reduce the severity of gout flare ups. 

Here’s a partial list of the foods you should avoid if you have gout: 

Although avoiding these foods is likely to help, you’re probably still going to need medication and a plan for flare-ups. 

5. Get in touch with us

When you have a flare-up, schedule an appointment at Rheumatology Solutions. We may need to do tests, or we may be able to suggest treatments, such as a cortisone injection, that could help. 

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