Major Symptoms of Gout Flare-Ups
Gout flare-ups, also known as gout attacks, are one of the most painful health problems people can have. They pop up suddenly and they last for days and days, making your joints incredibly inflamed and painful.
But how do you know that gout is causing your joint pain?
After all, other conditions like arthritis or re-inflamed sports injuries could cause pain, swelling, and discomfort too?
Well this article is going to help you figure it out!
I’m going to go over the symptoms of a gout flare-up. Then I’m going to take you through a typical gout attack progression (how it starts, how it ends, and how long the middle part lasts). We are going to wrap up with an explanation of why this all happens and 5 things you can do to make it better.
By the end, you should be confident in spotting a gout attack right away – plus, you’ll know what to do about it.
Symptoms Of A Gout Flare-Up
Normally, a gout attack is located in the big toe. This is one of the best ways to differentiate if it’s a gout attack or something else. But be aware that it can definitely pop up anywhere on the foot, instep, ankles, knees, elbows, hands, or wrists too.
Here are the sings of a gout flare-up:
- Joint pain (often severe)
- Joint discomfort
- Joint redness
- Joint swelling
- Joint tenderness
- Limited joint mobility
- Warmth or heat from the joint
- Nodules underneath the skin
This will often come to only one joint at a time. However, after you have had multiple gout attacks, it’s more common for it to hit multiple joints at once.
How A Gout Attack Progresses
Most of the time, gout flare-ups start at night. Of course, they can technically happen anytime, though.
Some people report having pre-gout attack symptoms that let them know it’s about to start. These can include the following symptoms in one of the joints:
Other people have absolutely no warning sings; the gout attack just begins.
The worst of the pain is normally in the first 12 hours of a gout flare-up. After that, you will probably have lessened sharp, intense pain, but lingering discomfort for the next few days.
How Long Do Gout Symptoms Last?
You can expect each gout attack to last for somewhere between 3 and 10 days. But be cautioned that there are rare times when gout attacks can last for multiple weeks. If you are continuing to have symptoms for longer than 10 days, absolutely go back to see your doctor.
The more gout flare-ups you have, the longer the gout flare-ups seem to stick around. So be sure to make the necessary lifestyle changes after your first attack to be sure that doesn’t happen.
Why Do You Experience Gout Symptoms?
Gout attacks come when your body has too much uric acid in your body. The uric acid joints together and makes crystals that land in one of your joints (again, this is normally going to be your big toe).
These crystals create inflammation – which is essentially what happens when your body is injured. It’s trying to defend itself against those crystals. And that inflammation is what creates your painful, uncomfortable symptoms.
So less uric acid = fewer gout flare-ups. Learn how to make that a reality below.
How To Ease Gout Symptoms
Of course, if you still aren’t sure about the cause of your joint pain, go see your doctor for a diagnosis. The way you treat gout and the way you treat other joint issues can be very different. So it’s important to know which you have.
Once you do know for sure that it’s gout, there are a few things you can do to ease your gout symptoms. There’s no way to escape the symptoms once the flare-up has begun, but you can definitely make it easier on yourself.
I’ve outlined the five important steps to take below.
1. Take A Pain Reliever
Start by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever right away. Something like Advil or Motrin should help you take the edge off for the time being. Keep up on the regular doses as you make an appointment to see your doctor.
Once you get into your doctor, he or she may give you a prescription pain reliever that can bring significantly more relief. You also may be given a steroid or other gout medication. It all depends upon your unique situation.
Talk to your doctor about your medication options for prevent gout attacks in the future. There are some medications that limit uric acid in the body. You may be a good candidate if you have multiple gout-flare-ups.
2. Take An All-Natural Supplement
There are many reasons why you wouldn’t want to take pain relievers, so we fortunately have all-natural alternatives. These are great to use at the same time as pain relievers as well!
There are quite a few different all-natural supplements that can help both treat and prevent gout attacks by preventing uric acid and lowering inflammation. Here are some of the best ingredients to look for:
- Tart Cherry: This is probably one of the #1 must-haves for anyone with gout. Tart cherries can both lower uric acid and reduce inflammation. Make sure to get this in supplement form, but snacking on cherries during your gout attack is helpful too.
- Hydrangea: Hydrangea root is a massive health booster, and it just so happens to be anti-inflammatory – especially when it comes to joint inflammation – so make sure you include it in gout treatment
- Chanca Piedra: This herb is normally used to help treat and prevent kidney stones (which is important for gout sufferers since high uric acid content may give you stones too!), but chanca piedra also lowers gout inflammation
- Celery Seed Extract: Celery seed extract will help decrease uric acid, it can ease the pain of gout, and it will help decrease inflammation
3. Ice and Elevate
Cold will be your friend during a gout attack. Ice the inflamed joint at regular intervals. Keep the ice on for 20 or 30 minutes and then let it breathe for a while. Since you will be icing one area multiple times a day, be sure to cover your ice pack with a thin towel or washcloth to protect your skin.
Since most gout attacks are in the foot, be sure to elevate it as much as possible. Bring a stool to your office desk if you have to go into work. But if you can elevate it higher than your chest, that’s best (lie on your bed or the couch and use pillows to prop your foot).
4. Start Your Coping Strategies
When your gout attack starts, you know you have a few days of pain ahead of you. So start your coping strategies now. Here are the top ones to focus on:
- Use a cane or walker: In an ideal world, you could sit and relax until your gout attack is over. But most of us will have to move around a bit while the pain and inflammation is still there. Having access to a cane or walker allows you to move around without putting extra pressure and stress on your tender joints.
- Focus on distractions: Sitting and wallowing in your pain is the worst thing you can do. Start a new series on Netflix. Invite a friend over to visit with you. Or knit a scarf. Keep your mind off of your inflamed joint.
- Say no to alcohol: As much as a glass of wine sounds like a great way to take the edge off, alcohol will not help. In fact, it inhibits the excretion of uric acid – so it can make the gout attack worse.
- Make a gout sock: During the first few hours or days of your gout flare-up, you will probably not want anything touching your foot (or other joint), including socks or blankets. To keep your feet warm, simply cut the big toe area out of a sock. You can do the same concept with a mitten for the hands.
5. Change That Diet
Now is the time to start changing what you are eating to prevent the uric acid buildup issues. The #1 way to do this is to greatly reduce your consumption of purines.
Purines are all-natural and perfectly safe by themselves. But when the body digests them, it creates a waste product: uric acid. We already know that an overabundance of uric acid is the cause of gout attacks.
Here are some of the foods that are really high in purines. It’s often best to cut these out completely:
- Game meat
- Organ meat
- Sardines, mussels, anchovies
Here are some foods that are moderately high in purines. It’s often best to reduce them:
- Any other type of meat
- Other seafood (like crab or shrimp)
Most vegetables and all fruit are good to go. Make sure you enjoy plenty of nuts and gluten-free grains too.
Dealing With The Symptoms of Gout
The symptoms of gout are terrible – there’s no getting around it. The pain is intense, and it makes life really uncomfortable for multiple days at a time. But don’t feel discouraged, there are ways to prevent a gout flare-up from happening again.
On top of talking to your doctor, taking natural supplements, and changing your diet, you should also consider starting an exercise routine and losing any extra weight.
You will just have to ride out the symptoms of this gout attack, but then you can be proactive and make sure another one doesn’t come again.