What Is Gout?

What is gout medically?

Your doctor sees gout as a form of arthritis. Arthritis simply means swollen joints. Gouty arthritis, the medical name for gout, means swollen joints that are caused by uric acid crystals deposited in and around the joints. Unfortunately, the implication of this definition is a belief that gout comes and goes.

Medically, gout comes and goes, as the strict definition of gouty arthritis implies that gout only exists when you have swollen joints. But inflammation is very difficult to measure.

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The Manner Of Development Of Gout

This article is taken from a press release titled Pathogenesis of Gout. The text is very scientific, and even an included glossary does not prevent some difficult to understand passages. The study has a very wide scope, and I will rewrite various parts of it in future articles to clarify some of the key points.

Posted on: Saturday, 8 October 2005, 03:01 CDT via science news release.

By Choi, Hyon K; Mount, David B; Reginato, Anthony M

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Uric Acid Arthritis – A Better Name For Gout

Uric Acid Arthritis

If we called gout uric acid arthritis would we get better treatment?

Gout is an old-fashioned word.

Through the ages it has been associated with pain, which is true.

It has also been associated with excessive luxurious living – the “rich man’s disease,” or “disease of kings,” which is less true.

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Gout

Gout Guidelines Introduction

To control gout, I recommend (1) a clear diagnosis of gout symptoms, which forms the basis of (2) a personal gout treatment plans, possibly supported by (3), gout diet improvement.

Gout guidelines give practical advice on those 3 main subjects, as described below. My guidelines are written to suit most gout sufferers and include links to forums and other support services where you can get personal guidance.

For practical purposes, those three subjects are all that matter. However, many gout sufferers and their carers want to understand the nature of gout better. Therefore, I also include some gout and uric acid reference pages. Gout reference pages describe the nature of gout, and they also cover other topics that cross the boundaries between symptoms, treatment, and diet.

What Is Gout?

The simple view is that gout is a painful, inflammatory form of arthritis (gouty arthritis) where swollen joints result from an immune response to uric acid crystals.

There are complicated processes involved where our bodies react to excess uric acid. This has led some people to suggest that gout is more a syndrome than a disease.

I explore and explain those scientific proposals in this gout reference section, and in the uric acid reference section. However, most gout sufferers are confused by many gout myths. Therefore, I find it easier to describe what gout is by explaining what it is not.

Do you want to know What is gout?

Stages Of Gout

Gout is a progressive disease. First, we notice painful gout flares in one joint. This spreads to other joints and gout attacks become more frequent. If we only treat acute gout and fail to control uric acid, then gout spreads to other tissues, as described in the tophi pages.

Asymptomatic Hyperuricemia
Hyperuricemia is uric acid of 7mg/dL or above. Many people have high uric acid without developing typical gout symptoms. Doctors are loathed to treat high uric acid without gout symptoms. However, you must get annual blood tests and examine joints for swellings because uric acid crystals can grow very slowly. Even if you do not get gout attacks, these crystals can still cause serious problems, so you should get any unusual swellings checked.
Acute Gout
Acute gout is a medical term that means gout attack or gout flare. It is the painful swelling most associated with gout. Although these terms are interchangeable, I tend to use acute gout in this section about understanding gout. I use gout flare in the Gout Symptoms section, and gout attack in the Gout Treatment section.
Inter-critical Gout
Inter-critical gout is the pain free period between gout attacks. You should not consider that gout is under control during these periods. Just because there is no gout attack, you can still have uric acid crystals growing slowly.
Chronic Gout
This refers to gout that has become established over many years. It is common, because gout can only ever be cured if it is secondary to another health condition or environmental factor, and that primary cause is removed. For most gout sufferers, high uric acid is genetic, therefore the best we can do is control uric acid. If we do not control uric acid, chronic gout will get worse, and will often lead to tophi, as I describe in the tophaceous gout pages in the Gout Symptoms guidelines.

Understanding Gout: Next Steps

Gout Guidelines Image
Gout Guidelines
I believe knowledge is power, and understanding gout will give you the power to fix it.

It is far easier to control gout if you follow a logical approach. Unfortunately, gout is seen by many people as an eating disorder. This leads to an unhealthy obsession with food that has little impact on gout management. The correct way to manage gout is to:

  1. Diagnose Gout Symptoms: Make sure you have a clear gout diagnosis. Ideally, this should include a personal assessment of likely causes of your gout which will help guide the best approach to…
  2. Personal Gout Treatment Plans: Work with your doctor to set a safe uric acid level target, and monitor progress, whilst providing temporary pain relief where required.
  3. Assess Personal Gout Diet Improvements: Assess existing diet to ensure it helps, not hinders, your Personal Gout Treatment Plan. If required, work with your doctor, and perhaps a nutritionist, to improve diet for gout and for general health. Please note that I refer to diet in its widest sense, including all food, drink, and lifestyle choices, including exercise.

You can get help with all aspects of understanding and managing gout in the gout forum.



Gout Document Change History

Gout Document Change HistoryTo read the document change history, click the GoutPal History image on the right.

Do you have suggestions for improving Gout? Then, please add your idea to GoutPal’s Suggestion Box. Or, send the Feedback Form, below.

Gout Info Update Service – Stay Updated about Gout

Gout Info Update Service keeps you up-to-date with Gout Info By Email.

Busy gout sufferers need up-to-date gout info. But not everybody has the time to surf the Internet each day. So, I provide several ways to notify you about changes to GoutPal.com. Also, new developments in the world of gout.

The choice is yours. Because you can subscribe to as many gout update services as you like – they are all free. So, if you want to know more, read on.

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Gout Images

Gout Images are related to gout, e.g. charts, tables, and sketches, including photographs that illustrate a point without being direct pictures of gout.

For all the images in this category, you may browse all Gout Pictures.

Please see the Gout Picture Section for a complete list of gout pictures, photographs, and images.

Gouty Search Hints

I update GoutPal regularly with new gouty arthritis information. This reflects changes in best practice, as well as news about developments in diagnosing and treating gout. Many articles are a direct result of interesting questions and discussion in the gout forum.

All this leads to a growing website, with articles on most aspects of gout, written for different reasons.

Though I am always looking at ways to improve navigating the website, the best way to find relevant gout information is to use the search boxes. I include a search box near the top, and near the end, of every page. The results include relevant gouty information from all my GoutPal websites.

Gouty Search Hints

Search For Similar Gouty Pages

Near the end of most pages, I add a search box and relevant search topics. You can copy some or all of the search phrase into the search box to find more information related to what you have just read. You might find the format a little unusual at first, but I format it this way to make it easier to copy. E.g.:

allopurinol|colchicine

This means show all pages about allopurinol OR colchicine.

There are many ways to copy it into the search box, but the easiest way is to triple-click anywhere on the line. This highlights all the search phrase, and you can simply drag it into the search box, then click the search button.

You can also use similar techniques to copy any part of the article into the search box – very useful for finding explanations of medical terms.

Gouty Question Searches

If you have a question about the information you have read, enter it into the search box. The results may well answer your question immediately. If not, they usually give relevant information that helps you a little so that you can then make your questions more specific.

Restricting Gouty Search Results

Sometimes, you just want to see results from part of the GoutPal websites. For instance, if you are looking for facts and reference material, you may want to see results from GoutPal.com. If you want to see what questions people are asking about gout, you may want to see results from the Gout Forum only.

For this type of restricted search, format your search to include a site restriction. Examples of these are:

GoutPal.com only
site:goutpal.com your search words
Gout Forums only
site:goutpal.net/forums/ your search words

Search Beyond GoutPal

You can use my search page to search for anything on the Internet. This might be for gout information from other websites, but there are no restrictions. After all your searches, there is a box to search the entire Internet. You can easily find it by clicking the Search button in the menu above, or follow this link: http://www.goutpal.com/the-gout/#fullsearch

It’s a great idea to bookmark that link, and then you can search at the click of a button from anywhere.

Gouty Search Hints: Next Steps

Use the search boxes whenever you want to find gouty information or answer gouty questions. You can practice on the box below.