Gout is a form of arthritis that can affect anyone, but is most common in men over the age of 40. It occurs when uric acid builds up in the body, causing crystals to form in the joints. This can lead to pain, swelling, and inflammation. Gout can be treated with medication, but it is important to see a doctor if you think you may have it.
Gout – know the facts
About one in five Australians currently live with pain from arthritis. There is no cure and much confusion surrounds what it is and how best to treat and manage the condition.
Living with arthritis
Arthritis is a general term for pain and stiffness – and usually inflammation – in one or more joints in the body.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, of which osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout are the three most common. “Gout is a very common condition in Australia affecting people of all ages and from all walks of life.
Its symptoms often have a big impact on people’s daily lives,” says Ainslie Cahill, CEO of Arthritis Australia, currently launching their annual Arthritis Awareness Week, held on 29 March 4 April.
Gout is not an old person’s disease as many people think.
In fact, two out of three people with arthritis are between the ages of 15 and 60. Even children can have arthritis. “Although arthritis can be difficult to live with, there are many simple measures that can help anyone with arthritis manage their symptoms and cope with everyday life,” says Cahill.
What treatments are available?
While there is no cure, there are many treatments available, depending on your type of arthritis and the joints that are affected. It is important that you work with your doctor or other medical specialists to formulate an overall strategy that is right for you.
Medicines can reduce inflammation and provide pain relief in the form of corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and ointments, and anti-rheumatic drugs.
These often work best when combined with other forms of therapy, including physical therapies such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and podiatry.
If medication haven`t worked for you, and if pain and loss of mobility are extreme. You may be a candidate for joint replacement surgery, a commonly performed and generally successful operation. Complementary forms of treatment, such as acupuncture and especially massage, have also been shown to provide benefits in some cases.
What strategies can help?
The importance of being physically active cannot be underestimated. Exercise helps reduce joint and muscle pain and improves general flexibility. In addition, strength training – if you are able – helps to strengthen your muscles, takes a load off your joints, improves posture and relieves muscle tension.
Relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga are a great way to manage your pain levels and gain some inner peace over what can often be a frustrating condition. Hot and cold packs provide extra pain relief.
A heat pack placed over painful joints for 15 minutes can work wonders. Likewise, an ice pack can help reduce swelling and relieve pain. It`s also important that you maintain a healthy weight.
Carrying extra weight puts extra stress on your joints, which means less flexibility and more pain. By maintaining health, both with exercise and diet, you can control arthritis, rather than it controlling you.
Who can you turn to?
Your GP is the ideal first stop. They have a broad knowledge of medicines and can refer you on to other specialists who may be relevant to your condition.
If you are unhappy with any specialist, see another. It is important that you form a close understanding with your health professional or health team. The Internet is also a good place to do your own research.
You can never collect too much information. When it comes to exercise, you should also seek advice – from your GP, physio or personal trainer – on what is the most effective and appropriate program for you. It’s also crucial that you have the support of your family and friends.
Let them know about your experiences and talk to them about your problems and struggles. There`s no reason to do it alone.
10 steps to living well with arthritis
1.Take control by knowing your illness.
2.Don`t delay, see your doctor.
3.Work with your health care team and be an important part of it.
4.Know about your treatment options.
- Find new ways to stay active.
6.Learn techniques to help manage your pain.
7.Acknowledge your feelings and seek support.
8.Make food choices that count.
- Balance your life.
- Call your local state or territory Arthritis Office.
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Vogue Health Team