By Dr. Christopher Parker
Think about your last gout attack. Maybe it’s been years. Maybe it was yesterday. No matter how recent the attack, all gout patients know one thing: the pain can be debilitating. The good news is that, even though this condition can’t be cured, it can be successfully managed.
How? Here are four simple steps to get you started.
Step 1: Get Diagnosed
Gout can affect anyone. The most common symptoms include:
- Intense joint pain, most commonly in the big toe
- Inflammation and redness of the affected joint
- Limited range of motion
Sound familiar? Then it’s time to visit your health care provider.
Doctors diagnose gout based on symptoms and the appearance of an affected joint. They then confirm the diagnosis from a joint fluid test, blood test or X-ray. Once diagnosed, patients can receive the necessary care to address their gout.
Step 2: Seek Treatment
Every patient is unique, so gout treatment is not one-size-fits-all. Patients with gout have many options at their disposal.
Treatment options for gout typically include:
- Allopurinol, Febuxostat: These treatments work to reduce the body’s production of uric acid and lower it to 6mg/dL or lower.
- Colchicine: This treatment can be used to treat and prevent gout attacks when used along with uric acid-lowering treatments.
- NSAIDs: These are common, over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen that reduce inflammation and can provide immediate relief during a gout attack. They do not, however, treat the underlying cause of gout.
- Pegloticase: When traditional treatments don’t work, your doctor may suggest this infused medication. It is administered at an infusion center every few weeks for several months.
Step 3: Continue Management
After you’ve found the right treatment path with your health care provider, stick with it. Remember, controlling gout flares is one thing, but long-term management will help you stay flare free. Continue taking the medication your doctor prescribes, and adopt healthy lifestyle habits to lower your risk of developing other conditions.
Step 4: Find Community
Always remember, you are not alone. Nine million people live with this condition. The Gout Support Group of America Facebook group is a welcoming place for people living with gout to share stories, seek advice and build community.