An introduction to the treatment of gout
Treatments for gout can be split into two groups; those which treat the symptoms of joint pain and inflammation, and those which prevent episodes of gout occurring.
Apart from medicines prescribed by your doctor, many gout sufferers also recognise that lifestyle measures and herbal remedies play an important part.
If you are suffering from an attack of gout, making your joint feel more comfortable will be a priority.
You may find that resting and raising the joint, particularly if you use a cold compress will make the joint feel less painful and inflamed until the gout subsides. This will help by easing the symptoms, rather than treating the condition itself.
In addition, there are dietary changes you can make to help target the root of the condition. Primarily, your diet has direct links with the development of gout. A diet high in purines will only cause raised levels of uric acid in the bloodstream, worsening gout, so being aware of purine-rich foods is the first important step in treating gout.
A diet low in purines with plenty of water to flush uric acid out of the body is also effective. Alcohol, particularly beer and red wine, is best avoided as it is renowned for worsening gout. Some people find that maintaining a regular amount of moderate exercise also helps with gout.
If you are suffering from an attack of gout, then the first thing you will want to do is relieve the pain and inflammation. Devil’s claw is a plant native to the southern parts of Africa. The tubers are used medicinally, and are a traditional remedy for joint pain. They possess anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic and painkilling properties. Devil’s Claw can be found in licensed herbal remedies, such as Atrosan® Devil’s Claw Tablets.
Arnica is a herb which has been used for hundreds of years as it possesses powerful anti-inflammatory action when used externally. For the treatment of gout, applying licensed herbal remedy Atrogel® arnica gel to the affected joint, is likely to reduce or relieve the symptoms.
There are also herbal remedies which focus on cleaning the toxins out of your body by supporting the function of the liver and kidneys. In particular, Golden Rod, also known as Solidago, helps to support the kidneys by removing impurities from the body. It is available in tincture or tea form.
Finally, Milk Thistle has a long traditional use as a tonic for the liver and has also seen to be effective in metabolising fat; for this reason some people have found it effective in the treatment of gout.
Doctors will often recommend a short course of an anti-inflammatory painkiller for acute episodes of joint pain. Alternatively, steroid injections or tablets may be suggested. While these treatments are usually effective in quickly resolving the symptoms of gout attack, they only treat the symptoms and do not tackle the root of the problem. Therefore, further gout attacks are likely to occur.
In the long term, your doctor is likely to ask you to examine your diet, and reduce the quantity of alcohol you consume and foods, such as red meat, which are high in purines. He is also likely to encourage you to drink as much water as possible.
Alongside this, he may suggest a drug such as allopurinol or febuxostat which are used to lower the level of uric acid in the bloodstream. These are used in the long term to reduce the frequency of gout attacks.
When to see the doctor
It is often advisable to go to the doctor the first time you have an attack of gout, to have the condition diagnosed and to get advice on your diet and lifestyle. Further to this, if you are able to manage your attacks effectively at home, it is not necessary to seek medical attention.
However, if you develop any complications, side-effects of medication or are concerned about your condition, it is important to seek the advice of your doctor. In addition, see your doctor if pain in an affected joint persists longer than normal.