6 Tips on Managing Gout Pain

Quincy AdamGout Learn

Managing gout pain
If you or a loved one suffers from bouts of gout pain, you are already aware of how intense and sudden these attacks can be. Although the big toe is most commonly affected, gout tends to spread into additional joints with successive attacks.

Locations such as the feet, ankles, knees, hands, and wrists are other areas you may experience gout pain. Discussing your symptoms with your doctor will help him or her develop a comprehensive management plan that can help minimize the frequency and duration of your subsequent attacks, allowing you to continue living your normal life.

The Right Tools and Tips Can Help You Manage Your Gout Pain

While every situation is different, and your doctor should help you set up a specific plan, the following 6 tips on managing gout pain are recommended by many health care providers:

1. Keep an over the counter or prescription strength version of an NSAID at the ready to take at the very first sign of an attack.

This class of medications which includes ibuprofen, naproxen, indomethacin, and celecoxib all work by reducing the inflammation responsible for painful gout symptoms, so taking them early can significantly shorten an attack. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a lower daily dose of your NSAID in order to prevent future attacks. Bear in mind that frequent use of these medications is associated with an increased risk of stomach bleeding, pain and ulcers.

2. Your physician may consider colchicine at low daily doses to prevent future attacks.

In people who cannot take NSAIDs, higher doses of this medication may also be used to treat these attacks. Although not specifically a pain reliever, this drug helps reduce gout pain by interrupting the natural processes that lead to inflammation.

3. Minimize your intake of purines.

Gout pain is the result of uric acid buildup in the body, and foods and beverages containing purines are broken down into uric acid during digestion. Avoiding high purine items, such as beer, organ meats, red meat and many types of seafood, may help keep gout symptoms at bay.

4. Processed sugars, especially fructose and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), can also raise uric acid levels.

Proper hydration is also critical, so drink plenty of fluids; but steer clear of sugary beverages with HFCS such as soft drinks. A diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and whole grains promotes overall health and helps keep uric acid flushed out of your body.

5. If you need to do so, lose weight.

Being overweight is one of the most significant risk factors for developing and worsening episodes of gout pain, as uric acid levels tend to be higher in people above their ideal weight when compared to those with healthier weight levels. The additional pounds are also stressful to weight bearing joints in the body. Discuss your options or any weight loss plan with your doctor.

6. If needed, your doctor may suggest medications such as probenecid that can help your kidneys rid uric acid from the body more effectively, or a xanthine oxidase inhibitor such as allopurinol or febuxostat, which minimize the amount of uric acid naturally produced in your body.

Depending on the severity and frequency of your gout pain, as well as your ability to maintain a low purine diet and an ideal body weight, the benefits of these medications may or may not outweigh their side effects. As always, talk with your physician.

Work With Your Doctor to Develop the Best Plan of Action for You

Developing an effective management plan for gout involves both you and your doctor. Every person and situation is unique. Maintaining a healthy body weight and keeping purine intake low may be sufficient to keep symptoms at bay for long periods of time in some people, but others may need additional help in the form of one or more gout medications. Many options are available. If side effects from one type of medication are intolerable, your doctor may be able to suggest another that works better with your body chemistry. Modern advances in medicine may help you reduce or eliminate your gout pain and live a normal lifestyle once again.