Gout is a kind of arthritis. It can cause an attack of sudden burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. These attacks can happen over and over unless gout is treated. Over time, they can harm your joints, tendons, and other tissues. Gout is most common in men.
The most common sign of gout is a nighttime attack of swelling, tenderness, redness, and sharp pain in your big toe . You can also get gout attacks in your foot, ankle, knees, or other joints. The attacks can last a few days or many weeks before the pain goes away.
Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. Most of the time, having too much uric acid isn’t harmful. Many people with high levels in their blood never get gout. But when uric acid levels in your blood are too high, the uric acid may form hard crystals in your joints.
Your chances of getting gout are higher if you are overweight, drink too much alcohol, or eat too much meat and fish that are high in chemicals called purines. Some medicines, such as water pills (diuretics) can also bring on gout.
The goals of treatment for gout are fast pain relief and prevention of future gout attacks and long-term complications, such as joint destruction and kidney damage. Treatment includes medicines and steps you can take at home to prevent future attacks.
Specific treatment depends on whether you are having an acute attack or are trying to manage long-term gout and prevent future flare-ups.
To treat an acute attack:
- Rest the affected joint(s).
- Use ice to reduce swelling.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Oral corticosteroids