Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis characterized by recurrent attacks of a red, tender, hot, and swollen joint. Pain typically comes on rapidly, reaching maximal intensity in less than 12 hours. He joint at the base of the big toe is affected in about half of cases. It may also result in tophi, kidney stones, or kidney damage.
Gout is due to persistently elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. This occurs from a combination of diet, other health problems, and genetic factors. At high levels, uric acid crystallizes and the crystals deposit in joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues, resulting in an attack of gout. Gout occurs more commonly in those who regularly drink beer or sugar-sweetened beverages or who eat foods that are high in purines such as liver, shellfish, or anchovies, or are overweight. Diagnosis of gout may be confirmed by the presence of crystals in the joint fluid or in a deposit outside the joint. Blood uric acid levels may be normal during an attack.
Treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), glucocorticoids, or colchicine improves symptoms. Once the acute attack subsides, levels of uric acid can be lowered via lifestyle changes and in those with frequent attacks, allopurinol or probenecid provides long-term prevention. Taking vitamin C and eating a diet high in low-fat dairy products may be preventive.
Gout affects about 1 to 2% of the Western population at some point in their lives. It has become more common in recent decades. This is believed to be due to increasing risk factors in the population, such as metabolic syndrome, longer life expectancy, and changes in diet. Older males are most commonly affected. Gout was historically known as "the disease of kings" or "rich man's disease". It has been recognized at least since the time of the ancient Egyptians.
Long-standing elevated uric acid levels (hyperuricemia) may result in other symptoms, including hard, painless deposits of uric acid crystals known as tophi. Extensive tophi may lead to chronic arthritis due to bone erosion. Elevated levels of uric acid may also lead to crystals precipitating in the kidneys, resulting in stone formation and subsequent urate nephropathy.
Physical fitness, healthy weight, low-fat dairy products, and to a lesser extent, coffee and taking vitamin C, appear to decrease the risk of gout; however, taking vitamin C supplements does not appear to have a significant effect in people who already have established gout. Peanuts, brown bread, and fruit also appear protective. This is believed to be partly due to their effect in reducing insulin resistance.
The triggers for precipitation of uric acid are not well understood. While it may crystallize at normal levels, it is more likely to do so as levels increase. Other triggers believed to be important in acute episodes of arthritis include cool temperatures, rapid changes in uric acid levels, acidosis, articular hydration and extracellular matrix proteins. The increased precipitation at low temperatures partly explains why the joints in the feet are most commonly affected. Rapid changes in uric acid may occur due to factors including trauma, surgery, chemotherapy and diuretics. The starting or increasing of urate-lowering medications can lead to an acute attack of gout with febuxostat of a particularly high risk. Calcium channel blockers and losartan are associated with a lower risk of gout compared to other medications for hypertension.
Duration of naphthalan baths, alternative baths and physiotherapy is 10 minutes.