If you’ve had gout before, you know that it can be extremely painful. It can wake you up in the middle of the night with the feeling that your big toe is on fire.
Gout is a painful form of arthritis that can affect anyone. It is characterized by attacks of acute pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in the joints, most often the joint at the base of the big toe. It has historically been called the “disease of kings” or the “rich man’s disease” because it was thought to affect those who overindulged in rich foods and drink, but we now know that it can affect rich and poor alike. It is true, however, that men are more prone to gout attacks, but women are increasingly susceptible to gout after menopause.
Gout is caused by a build up of urate crystals in your joint. This causes the intense pain and inflammation. Urate crystals form when you have a high level of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is the natural by-product of purines, which are found naturally in the body as well as in certain foods such as organ meats, herring, asparagus, and mushrooms. Normally, our bodies are able to control the amount of uric acid through the kidneys, which will pass excess uric acid into our urine. However, if our bodies produce too much uric acid or if the kidneys fail to excrete it into our urine, the uric acid and build up in the joint, forming sharp, needle-like crystals that cause the pain and inflammation associated with gout.
Some may only experience the signs and symptoms of gout once or twice in a lifetime, while others may experience them multiple times throughout the course of a year. Recurrent gout can lead to a number of other serious health complications. These include tophi, which are collections of urate that can form lumps in the skin, and kidney stones. Patients with gout also have an increased chance of getting problems affecting the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and metabolism.
If you are at least 50 years of age, have been diagnosed with gout, and have or have had heart disease or blood circulation problems, you may qualify for a clinical study performed by Physician’s Research Options (PRO). For more information about the study or to enroll in the study, click here.