Arthritis and Gout: How Are The Two Connected?
The discussion of gout and arthritis often go hand-in-hand. Why is that? Is gout a type of arthritis?
Short answer: yes, it is.
Longer answer: arthritis isn’t one condition. It’s actually a group name for many different joint inflammation and/or joint diseases. There are actually over 100 different types of arthritis. Gout is just one of these forms of inflammation that affects the joints, and so are:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Juvenile Arthritis
- Lyme disease
- Psoriatic Arthritis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- And much, much more
Pain and stiffness are common among most of these arthritis types, but every disease is different.
Why Is Gout A Type of Arthritis?
The way gout comes about is what classifies it as arthritis.
When you have too much uric acid in your body – either by consuming too much or not excreting enough through your urine – something called urate crystals can start to form. These are very sharp crystals, almost like needles.
Eventually they will travel to one or more of your joints, most likely your big toe, and cause massive amounts of inflammation. Of course, the pain, stiffness, lack of range of motion, and overall discomfort will start.
The presence of joint inflammation and those hallmark symptoms are what classifies gout as a type of arthritis.
Gout And Other Types of Arthritis Can Go Hand-in-Hand
One of the most important things to realize is that you can have gout and another form of arthritis at the same exact time. The reason it’s so important to know this is that the treatment of gout and other types of arthritis are very different.
So if there is a chance your new worsened pain could be gout – you need to talk to your doctor right away.
Here are three types of arthritis that can coincide with a gout attack:
This is the most common type of arthritis to go together with gout. Doctors aren’t really sure which causes which: Do the gout’s urate crystals wear down the joints and make them an easier culprit for osteoarthritis? Or do the negative side effects of osteoarthritis encourage gout? No matter the original cause, they definitely can come tougher.
Being overweight is a risk factor for both of these conditions.
The risk for gout in both people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is actually five times greater than those without those health problems. Here’s why: when you have psoriasis, your skin cells turn over rapidly. This process can actually increase uric acid levels, which potentially leads to gout.
The chances of having rheumatoid arthritis and gout at the same time is fairly rare – only about 2% of people experience both. But it is important to realize that it’s a possibility. Think about it – that means out of every 100 people reading this article with RA will also get gout.
Steps You Can Take To Improve Gout And Arthritis
Since arthritis is a combo of so many different diseases, no treatments are exactly alike. That being said, taking steps to lower your overall chronic inflammation can be a great place to start.
Ways to lower inflammation include:
- Diet: Eating more produce, fish, nuts, and beans and eating less sugar, fast food, and processed food makes a big difference
- Stress: Finding healthy ways to lower your stress (that may be a massage, meditation, yoga class, etc.) can actually bring down the inflammation in your body
- Exercise: Participating in low-impact, frequent exercise is a must for anybody with inflammation or arthritis issues (though you should check with your doctor first to see what activities could inflame your joints)
- Natural supplements: Natural ingredients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and turmeric are all known to help your body keep chronic inflammation away
But then each type of arthritis requires specific instructions, medications, lifestyle changes, and supplements that your doctor and naturopath can both help you discover.
In the case of gout, there are lot of unique steps somebody needs to take to prevent another flare-up. These include:
- Eating fewer purines: Purines are actually converted to uric acid in the body. They are highest in meat products and yeast (so beer is a no-go).
- Limit alcohol: All types of alcohol actually make it harder for the body to get rid of uric acid
- Managing your weight: When you are overweight or obese, your body produces more uric acid and has a harder time getting rid of uric acid.
- Taking a uric acid cleanse: Natural supplements that help keep uric acid at healthy levels are really helpful. Top choices include: cherry extract, celery seed extract, chanca piedra (which also helps you prevent uric acid kidney stones!), and hydrangea extract.
- Medications: Sometimes it is essential to get on prescription medications – even for a short time – that help you balance your body’s uric acid production
Gender, Arthritis, and Gout
One interesting thing in the discussion of gout and arthritis is who tends to have these conditions.
By far, women are more likely to develop arthritis throughout their lifetimes than men. But almost no women will ever end up with gout. Gout is so rare among women, that it’s often called the “disease of kings.”
When women enter menopause, their gout risk does increase – but it’s an incredibly small increase. In fact, only about 4% of women in their 60s will ever get gout.
Gout and Arthritis
All types of arthritis are frustrating and painful – and gout is no exception. Many people refer to the pain of a flare-up as excruciating. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your odds of ever developing this type of arthritis ever again.