I am running a series of myth articles to try to clarify “What Is Gout?”
Gout is really quite simple – an immune reaction to invading uric acid crystals. But many people fail to understand the immune system part of that definition. Also, many people build on the basic misunderstandings, and the Internet has fueled a host of myths about gout.
Today I will look at the pain measurement myth – gout patients (and some doctors) who measure the success of gout treatment solely by the reduction or absence of pain.
What Is Gout Pain?
Pain control is important. The intense pain of gout is hard to bear and seriously affects our mobility and enjoyment of life. It creates personal fears of returning pain that cause us to modify our behavior and to become anxious. We must control gout pain, but that is only a short term measure. To cure gout properly we must lower uric acid.
There are many more myths about uric acid levels, and I will cover these in later articles in this series. For now, I will simply say that for uric acid lowering treatment to be effective, it must reduce the concentration of uric acid in our blood low enough to cause all existing uric acid crystals to dissolve.
When I learned that allopurinol and other uric acid lowering treatments can cause gout attacks, I was shocked and confused. How can a treatment that is designed to help gout sufferers cause more pain? When you understand that, you understand what gout is, and you understand why you can never judge any gout treatment, including gout diet improvements, simply on the basis of gout pain.
What Is Gout Treatment?
In a comment on the gout forum today, Bob claims that blood donation as a gout cure does not work, because he is still getting gout attacks. But how does he know that if he does not know his uric acid levels?
Is the continuing gout pain from new uric acid crystals forming, or old ones dissolving? My best guess is that his uric acid level does drop after each blood donation, but the reduction is neither big enough nor frequent enough.
What Is Gout: The Facts
The only way to stop gout pain returning is to lower uric acid enough to dissolve uric acid crystals. The only way to measure the effectiveness of that treatment is to monitor uric acid levels. Pain will continue until all crystals are dissolved, and you should take pain relief as a preventative, or as required. For full details, please browse my Gout Treatment Guidelines.
Leave What Is Gout Myth #1 to browse the Gout Treatment guidelines.