What is Gout?
Learn about gout and how to manage gout to prevent painful outbreaks in your joints.
Gout is a form of arthritis that's characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints. In most cases, gout is an inherited metabolic disorder in which high concentrations of uric acid circulate in the blood. As it accumulates, uric acid can form needle-like crystals that deposit in joints, causing swelling and discomfort. Uric acid is a byproduct of protein metabolism, and people with gout should avoid a particular class of proteins called purines that occur in many foods, including organ meats, sardines, anchovies and lentils, as well as in alcoholic beverages.
Protect your joints! Be kind to your body. After doing heavy work, or doing the same task over and over, such as in garden work, stop. Slow down by doing an easy task, or by taking a rest. Use your back, arms and legs in safe ways to avoid putting stress on joints. For example, carry a heavy load close to your body. Use helpful devices such as a cart to carry your grocery bags. A cart will help you to walk more safely. A bar, modified to assist during awkward movement, which attaches to a shower, will help you to get in and out of the tub more easily. Again, maintaining a healthy weight will help you to avoid putting extra stress on your joints. Protecting your joints means using them in ways that avoid excess stress. Benefits include less pain and greater ease in doing tasks. Three main techniques to protect your joints are:
- Pace yourself, by alternating heavy or repeated tasks with easier tasks or breaks, reduces the stress on painful joints.
- Positioning joints wisely helps you use them in ways that avoid extra stress. Use larger, stronger joints to carry loads. For example, use a shoulder bag instead of a hand-held one. Also, avoid keeping the same position for a long period of time.
- Using helpful devices, such as canes, luggage carts, grocery carts and reaching aids, can help make daily tasks easier. Using safety bars and shower seats in the bathroom can help you to conserve energy and avoid falls.
- Maintaining adequate fluid intake
- Exercise, safely, for weight reduction
- Doctor recommended dietary changes
- Reduction in alcohol consumption
- Medications to reduce hyperuricemia
Once acute symptoms of gout are under control, exercising can help you strengthen the joint. Always consult a doctor before beginning an exercise program. Exercise can also help you to maintain a healthy weight. There are three main types of exercises folks with gout should consider:
- Range of motion exercises reduce stiffness and help keep your joints moving. Using no, or little, resistence or extra weight. An example of a range of motion exercise for your foot is to move it, starting from your ankle, in a circle.
- Strengthening exercises maintain or increase muscle strength. Endurance exercises strengthen your heart, give you energy and control your weight. Consider mostly weight bearing exercise, low intensity modified functional training exercise. These exercises include walking, swimming and cycling with modified exercise modalities.
- Moderate stretching exercises can help keep the muscles and tendons around the affected joint more flexible and strong. Low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, water aerobics and stationary bicycling can all help you maintain strength and flexibility and increase your endurance.
If you suspect that you may have gout, contact your doctor. Always speak with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program and get advice based on your individual needs.