Pain affects everyone at some point in their lives. But for the more than 9 million Americans living with gout, excruciating pain can be a reality of day-to-day life.
Despite the debilitating nature of the disease, many patients downplay the severity of their pain due to stigma. This can keep them from seeking the treatment they need to manage their gout.
During Pain Awareness Month, it’s important to raise awareness about gout to stop the stigma associated with the condition. Patients and their caregivers should keep these three points in mind:
- Gout is not your fault. Gout is a common form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood. While certain foods and medications can contribute to the disease, gout is often caused by other factors. Genetics, age, gender and race can play a part. Common comorbidities such as heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease increase patients’ risk.
- Gout is not funny. Movies and TV often misrepresent gout. A recent study found that 59% of reviewed shows portrayed gout as embarrassing, while 50% portrayed it as funny. This may reinforce common gout misconceptions and further stigmatize people living with the condition. Shame and embarrassment may keep them from seeking the treatment they need.
- The pain from gout is debilitating. Anyone who has gout knows that the pain from an attack is excruciating. Patients have described the pain as unforgiving, worse than childbirth and like being stabbed. Greater awareness and acceptance of gout can encourage patients to open up about this pain and seek treatment.
The good news is, while gout is a serious medical condition, it CAN be successfully treated. And support is available! During Pain Awareness Month, explore the U.S. Pain Foundation’s toolkit, join a supportive community, share your story and help stop the stigma associated with this debilitating disease.