Gout is a form of arthritis that usually affects the joint of the big toe. Accumulation of urate crystals in the joint causes gout. High level of uric acid in the blood increases the risk of urate crystal build-up in the joints.
Uric acid is the byproduct of metabolism of a substance called purine that is present in large quantities in certain foods. It is excreted from the body through urination. When the kidneys cannot excrete sufficient uric acid or synthesis of uric acid increases in the body, the uric acid level in the blood rises dramatically. This condition, also known as hyperuricemia, causes accumulation of uric acid in the body joints, especially in the joint at the base of the big toe.
The goals of gout treatment are to reduce the pain and inflammation of the affected joint and lower the uric acid level in the blood. Apart from pharmacological drugs, alternative therapies can provide relief from gout.
Treatment For Gout
Pain Relief Medications
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually used as first line treatment for gout. These drugs help to reduce pain and inflammation. The dosage varies according to the severity of pain.
High doses are used for lessening intense pain in the affected joints caused by an acute attack. You may take a low dose of the drug for a prolonged period to prevent recurrent gout attacks. Gout patients who cannot tolerate NSAID can use colchicine for treating acute gout attack and preventing further attack. Severe pain that does not respond to oral drugs may be treated with corticosteroid injections.
Uric Acid Lowering Drugs
Medications that inhibit uric acid production or stimulate excretion of uric acid are recommended for treating gout. Drugs that help to reduce synthesis of uric acid are known as xanthine oxidase inhibitors. They work by obstructing activities of an enzyme associated with metabolism of purine.
These drugs should be taken only after the symptoms of the latest gout attack have subsided. The elevated uric acid level in the blood can also be lowered with the help of uricosuric drug that improves excretion of uric acid. It works by inhibiting reabsorption of uric acid in the kidneys.
Certain home remedies can provide relief from gout pain. People suffering from gout should drink large amounts of water. By increasing urine output, increased water intake boosts excretion of uric acid. You can even lower your uric acid level by drinking coffee.
Researchers believe that certain ingredients in coffee other than caffeine help to reduce the uric acid level either by inhibiting reuptake of uric acid in the kidneys or by suppressing purine metabolism. Gout patients can drink about 8 to 16 ounces of cherry juice daily. The anti-inflammatory constituents in cherry suppress inflammatory activities, providing relief from pain and inflammation of the joints.
Herbs that help to reduce inflammation can be used for treating gout. Turmeric, cat’s claw, devil’s claw and green tea extract are widely used for alleviating inflammation.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture helps to lessen gout pain and prevents recurrent attacks. Acupuncture works by activating the natural pain relief mechanism of the body.