Gout is an arthritis that presents with pain and inflammation in one or more joints. It impacts millions of people around the world. Sometimes, gout has no symptoms and other times, when symptoms get worse, flares or “gout attacks” occur. Fortunately, people with gout can successfully treat and take care of the condition.
Gout occurs when uric acid, a breakdown product of protein found in the blood, builds up in the body and causes crystals to form in the joints. Lumps of the crystals, called tophi, then form under the skin, in the joints, or in other tissues. (Gout can form Kidney stones!! Ouch!!.) Excess uric acid can cause significant damage to the tissues and bones. This can lead to severe pain, deformities, and alter how well a person can move (mobility).
If gout is not treated, it can lead to more frequent gout attacks and complications that can affect other organs in the body such as the kidneys and heart. Gout can also take a toll on a person’s mental health and well-being.
Your rheumatologist can safely diagnose, treat, and help patients manage their gout. By being proactive and taking care of the condition, people with gout can achieve the following:
- Lowered risk of frequent gout attacks: The use of a class of medicines called urate lowering therapy (ULT) has been shown in studies to significantly lower how often gout attacks occur in people taking them. In one study, patients treated with these medicines had a 60% reduction in the risk of recurrent gout attacks compared to those who did not receive them. This means less gout flares impacting day to day activities.
- Lower risk of joint damage: Over time, the chronic inflammation caused by gout can lead to joint damage, including cartilage and bone loss, joint deformities, and reduced mobility. Proper treatment with ULT has been proven to lower inflammation, pain, and joint damage.
- Lower risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD): Gout is a risk factor for CKD (a gradual loss of kidney function), but appropriate management of gout can lower this risk. One study found that gout patients who received appropriate ULT had a 27% reduction in the risk of developing CKD compared to those who did not receive the medicine.
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD): Gout is associated with a higher risk of CVD (also known as heart disease), but appropriate management of gout can lower this risk. One study found that gout patients treated with ULT had a 31% reduction in the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events compared to those who did not receive ULT.
It is important to work with a rheumatologist to properly treat and manage gout to prevent the short-term and long-term complications of this possibly debilitating condition. Rheumatologists can work together with patients to support them with self-management through diet and lifestyle changes along with prescribing medicines that keep the condition well-controlled. Research has shown that successful management of gout can significantly lower the risk of gout-related complications and thus overall well-being.
At Overlake Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center we help people with arthritic joint pains become pain free and people with autoimmune diseases get their immune system back on track. If you are in the greater Seattle area, call us or contact us and we will help you on your journey to wellness.