Although there is no cure for gout, treatments can help slow the progression of the disease and reduce the frequency and severity of disease flare-ups.

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that develops due to excess uric acid in the blood. This excess uric acid forms crystals that accumulate within the joints, triggering joint pain, inflammation, and swelling. The condition typically affects the joints of the toes, ankles, or knees.

This article provides tips on managing gout and outlines some of the causes, risk factors, and complications associated with the disease. It also offers an overview of gout, including its four stages.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is currently no cure for gout. However, treatments are available to help manage the condition and reduce the frequency and severity of gout attacks.

Treating gout typically involves a combination of medications and routine adjustments.

Treatment plans for gout are unique to the individual and depend on the stage and severity of the disease. Some general tips for managing gout include the below.

Diet

Gout occurs due to hyperuricemia, an excess of uric acid in the blood. Hyperuricemia occurs as a result of increased uric acid production, decreased uric acid excretion, or a combination of the two.

Purines are chemicals that the body metabolizes to form uric acid. As such, excess uric acid production may occur due to a purine-rich diet.

A person with gout may benefit from avoiding or limiting foods high in purine. Examples include:

  • seafood
  • red meat
  • organ meats, such as liver and kidney
  • alcohol, which inhibits the removal of uric acid by the kidneys
  • sweetened beverages

Maintaining a moderate weight

People with gout may benefit from maintaining a moderate weight. Doing so will help relieve pressure on the joints. It may also help with the following:

  • alleviating pain
  • improving joint function
  • slowing the progression of arthritis

Being physically active

According to the CDC, physical activity can help reduce pain and disability associated with arthritis. It may also improve joint function and mobility. People may benefit from water-based exercises that reduce load-bearing on the joints. Examples include swimming and water aerobics.

Medication

Various treatment options can help prevent gout from progressing to other joints and can help reduce the occurrence of acute gout attacks. However, there is no consensus on the optimal treatment type.

Some treatment options include:

If a person experiences frequent acute gout attacks or chronic gout, their doctor may recommend medication to reduce uric acid levels in the blood. Examples include:

Surgery

Most cases of gout respond to nonsurgical management. However, the condition may progress to a more severe form called chronic tophaceous gout, when uric acid crystals form masses of white growths around affected joints. In these cases, a doctor may recommend one of the following surgical options:

  • Arthroscopic gout removal: Involves removing uric acid from the joints.
  • Tophi removal: Involves removing painful and damaging tophi — large uric acid crystals that appear as swollen nodules beneath the skin — from the joints.
  • Joint fusion surgery: A procedure that fuses smaller joints to improve their stability and alleviate pain.
  • Joint replacement surgery: A procedure that involves replacing a diseased joint with an artificial joint.

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that occurs due to hyperuricemia. This is the medical term for excess uric acid in the blood.

In gout, the excess uric acid forms crystals that accumulate within the joints. This process triggers joint pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Gout may affect the toe joints, ankles, or knees. It most often affects the joints of the big toe.

The four stages of gout

There are four stages of gout. The four stages, and their associated symptoms, are as follows:

  • Asymptomatic hyperuricemia: This is the stage when most people do not experience any signs or symptoms of gout. However, some may experience a very short-term gout attack.
  • Acute gout attack: The stage when a person experiences signs and symptoms of gout. An acute gout attack may develop over the course of several hours. During the peak of an attack, an individual person may experience severe joint inflammation and associated symptoms, such as:
    • redness
    • heat
    • swelling
    • tenderness
    • loss of joint function
  • Intercritical period: This is the remission stage when a person does not experience gout symptoms. The intercritical period is typically lengthy following the first gout attack and shorter following subsequent attacks.
  • Chronic tophaceous gout: Without treatment, gout may progress to chronic tophaceous gout within 10 years. This stage involves the formation of tophi, or large uric acid crystals called tophi. These may lead to joint destruction and deformity.

Gout occurs as a result of hyperuricemia and the uric acid crystals triggering inflammation. However, this does not always cause gout, and hyperuricemia that does not cause gout symptoms does not always require treatment.

The following risk factors for hyperuricemia are also risk factors for gout:

Certain health conditions can also increase the risk of developing gout. These include:

Without treatment, gout can develop into gouty arthritis, a more severe form of arthritis that can permanently damage the joints.

In some cases, the skin can develop an infection and the tendons below the skin may tear.

A person should speak with their doctor right away if they experience signs or symptoms of gout, especially if they have already received a diagnosis of hyperuricemia. Early treatment of gout can help reduce the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. This, in turn, can help prevent worsening gout symptoms and complications.

Without treatment, gout can develop into gouty arthritis. This may lead to permanent joint damage, severe pain, and mobility issues.

Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis, which is when uric acid crystals accumulate within one or more joints. This causes an inflammatory reaction that results in joint pain, inflammation, and swelling. The condition may also affect mobility.

There are various treatment options for gout. Lifestyle changes that may help manage the condition include avoiding or limiting consumption of dietary purines, exercising regularly, and maintaining a moderate weight.

Doctors may also recommend medications to slow the progression of the disease and alleviate symptoms. In some cases, this may include taking medications to lower uric acid levels in the blood.

Anyone who experiences signs or symptoms of gout should consult a doctor as soon as possible for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Prompt detection and treatment of gout can help reduce the frequency and severity of attacks and the risk of complications.