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Gout Treatments to Get Rid of That Ouch!
Author: Trevor Mulholland

A large number of people in all parts of the world suffer from a common form of arthritis known as gout. In the United Kingdom alone, an estimated 600,000 people are afflicted with this painful disease. Fortunately, there are many gout treatments that are available. Choosing the right one would depend on the patient's specific condition; whether he is suffering from acute or chronic gout. A physician may prescribe medication to treat a sudden attack or to manage the condition in the long-term. The goal of gout treatments is fast pain relief and of course, the prevention of recurrence.

Gout occurs mostly in men who are 45 years and older. Typically, many sufferers are overweight and drink alcoholic beverages regularly. The disease can also occur in women (although in much smaller numbers) who are usually at the post-menopausal stage. Some of the historical figures who have suffered from gout include former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, England's King Henry VIII, and the poet Pablo Neruda. The disease usually affects only one joint at a time and largely affects the joint of the big toe, although it can also occur in the ankles, legs, knees, feet, wrists, elbows, and hands. The slightest bit of pressure on the afflicted joint can bring on intense and stabbing pain.

A person may develop gout if he has excessively high uric acid levels in his body, which are not flushed out. Little uric crystals resembling table salt will then form and lodge in the lining of joints and irritate and inflame them. Purines, a kind of chemical that is found in the body and in many kinds of food, play a major role in the elevation of uric acid levels; that's why nutritionists and physicians advise those suffering from gout to lessen their consumption of purine-rich foods, such as so-called organ meats (liver and kidneys), herring, anchovies, and beans. Also, patients should refrain from drinking alcohol, since alcohol can hinder the body's elimination of uric acid.

For rapid pain relief and reduced swelling, doctors will usually prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as indomethacin or naproxen. Patients with a greater severity of pain might benefit from steroid drugs like prednisone. These medications, and others such as colchicine, are used to relieve pain and swelling, but they do nothing to lower the body's uric acid levels. For long-term prevention of attacks, a physician will prescribe other types of medication. These may include allopurinol, probenecid, and sulfinpyrazone. In many cases, a patient may take a combination of these drugs both to treat sudden flare-ups and for preventive purposes.

There are also a number of gout treatments that make use of the principles of natural or herbal medicine. Many dietary supplements that contain natural ingredients are recommended to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. For instance, turmeric, ginger, and bromelain have strong anti-inflammatory properties. The bark of phellodendron also has similar properties, but it should not be taken internally -- it is applied directly to the skin above the inflamed joint. Dietary supplements that contain fish oils and other essential fatty acids are also recommended for gout sufferers, since they help bring down the body's uric acid levels.

Getting adequate intake of vitamins and minerals is important, but it seems that some vitamins and minerals are more effective than others in providing pain relief and preventing the recurrence of gout. Research shows that vitamin C can help the body get rid of excess uric acid faster, while folic acid can lower the body's uric acid levels. Vitamin E, on the other hand, helps inhibit leukotrienes, which can increase inflammation and promote tissue damage.

Some treatments can seem unusual at first glance, but many swear that they work. For instance, anecdotal evidence suggests that eating about half a pound of cherries a day or drinking lots of cherry juice can significantly reduce pain and swelling. Another home remedy involves the use of a charcoal poultice; it's believed that charcoal draws certain chemicals from the afflicted joint, thus reducing pain and swelling. Then there are those who recommend that people suffering from gout should eat an apple after every meal, drink diluted lime juice three times a day, or drink string bean juice everyday for one month.

Some of these gout treatments may sound funny, while others have the full backing of the medical community behind them. Before you decide to embark on any treatment regimen, consult your physician, who will be best able to map out a plan to rid you of the pain of gout in the fastest and safest possible manner.

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