Gout is a complex form of arthritis. Surprised? You aren’t the only one! Gout forms from a buildup of urate (also known as uric acid) in the body. Uric acid is produced by the body to break down purines, which are found in foods we eat. The symptoms can be sudden, severe with no warning and in different parts of the body. These include the big toe (most common) and other joints such as ankles, wrists, fingers, knees and elbows.

Symptoms of gout can include:

  • Pain that can be so severe that the weight of a sheet or gravity alone can make it unbearable
    • The pain can last days at a time or until the build-up of uric acid is gone
  • The area can have a temperature or be warm to touch during a flare-up
  • Swelling
  • Redness

Diagnosing and treatment

If you happen to have a gout flare-up, use these tips below:

  • Go to an urgent care if you can not immediately see your primary care provider (PCP)
  • Drink plenty of water to assist with flushing out the uric acid
  • If able, take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen

Gout can be diagnosed and treated by your health care provider with examinations, labs or tests, medication and/or lifestyle strategies. It is important that you see your health care provider when a flare-up occurs as they can properly diagnose it by blood work to have a measurement on the amount of uric acid.

Preventative measures

Men and African Americans are the two demographics affected the most by gout due to usually having a higher uric acid level. The risk for men or women increases across the board as you age. Follow these tips to minimize your chances of developing gout:

  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Avoid excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Participate in physical activities at least 30 minutes each day
    • Activities such as walking, swimming and cycling are easy on the joints
  • Talk with your doctor and discuss a self-management and treatment plan

UofL Health has more than 100 PCP conveniently located across Bullitt, Shelby, Henry and Jefferson counties that are safe, fast and close to home. If you do not already have a PCP, start by visiting the UofL Health – UofL Physicians website. Make an appointment today by calling 502-588-4343.

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Article by: Rejith Paily, M.D., FACP

Rejith Paily, M.D., FACP has been providing primary care in Louisville for more than a decade. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and is a fellow of the American College of Physicians. Trained in internal medicine, Dr. Paily strives to provide high quality primary care services, healthy lifestyle promotion and chronic disease management to his patients. Dr. Paily has been recognized by his peers as being one of Louisville Magazine's "Top Doc" award recipients multiple times throughout his career and was selected twice as being "Best of Kentuckiana Family Doctor" by WHAS-11 TV. He recently was elected as a 2021 At-Large Board Member of the Greater Louisville Medical Society.

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