Steps to Take During a Gout Flare-up

Joint pain is typically blamed on arthritis, but if it occurs particularly in your big toe, it’s likely gout, a condition caused by too much uric acid in your body. With nowhere to go, the uric acid forms hard deposits in your joint that causes pain, redness, and swelling. Your big toe isn’t the only joint gout affects, but it is the most common. It can also occur in your other toe joints or in the knuckles on your hands.

When you’re one of the more than 8 million Americans who suffer from gout, you’re going to need a good podiatrist. And if you live in the Salt Lake City area, you have access to two of the leading, board-certified specialists, Dr. Dan Preece and Dr. Darren Groberg, who can evaluate the stage and severity of your gout and develop an individualized treatment plan just for you. 

Because gout tends to cause spontaneous attacks of pain when you’re least expecting it, it can be hard to predict it and plan your activities accordingly. While our team recommends a comprehensive, long-term treatment plan, there are times you simply need help getting through a painful gout flare-up. 

Our experts at Utah Musculoskeletal Specialists put together this list of tips that can ease your acute gout attacks.

Medication

At the first signs of a gout flare-up, many people find that a regular dose of an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen can be very effective at stopping the pain, or at least decreasing it. 

When you meet with us about your gout, we complete a thorough examination, including your current and past health issues. We can recommend the right type of medication for you to keep on hand in case of sudden attack. 

Ice

The inflammation that comes along with gout is often the main culprit causing your pain. Instead of, or in addition to, the over-the-counter medication, good, old-fashioned ice can do wonders to reduce the swelling and pain. 

Whether you choose some crushed ice in a bag buffered by a thin towel, a frozen bag of peas, or a nice cold pool of water, dropping the temperature is often all it takes. 

Caution: Don’t leave ice on the area for more than 20 minutes, and don’t use this method if you have nerve damage or diabetes.

Rest

When you have a gout attack, especially if it’s in your toe, no one has to tell you to get off your feet; the pain will lead you to do that instinctively. But beyond the initial reaction to stop using the affected joint, whether in your hands or your feet, it’s important to stay off it as long as possible and give it some rest.

If you can, elevate the joint to alleviate some of the inflammation, as well. 

Next-level at-home tips

While ice, rest, and NSAIDs can help you endure a gout flare-up in the moment, there are more things you can do to give your gout a helping hand. 

These steps can help you manage the amount of uric acid in your system. 

Although gout is known to cause an occasional mild fever, if you have an elevated temperature along with chills, it could be the sign of an infection, in which case you should call us immediately. 

If you have gout or think you might, coming to see us for the right treatment is critical. Dr. Preece and Dr. Groberg can prescribe stronger medications, if necessary, and help you decide on the best course of treatment to avoid further complications. Call us today or request an appointment online to get a handle on your gout symptoms. 

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