Gouty arthritis is one of more than a hundred types of rheumatic diseases. This disease accounts for only 5 percent of cases of rheumatic diseases. Of all the rheumatism cases, gouty arthritis is the most painful condition. But what exactly is gouty arthritis?
Simply, gouty arthritis is a rheumatic condition brought about by deposition of uric acid crystals on one of the many joints of the human body. 75 percent of gouty arthritis cases strike a single joint on the big toe. However, there are other parts of the body that fall victim to this disease. These include ankles, fingers, wrists, knees, elbows, and feet.
The Risk Factors Associated With Gouty Arthritis
Age is one of the risk factors of gouty arthritis. Young people, on the one hand, are less likely to be diagnosed with the condition. On the other hand, males are more likely to be affected compared to females.
Not to be Confused With Pseudogout
In certain instances, gouty arthritis may be confused with a condition referred to as pseudogout. The symptoms of the two conditions are almost similar, but the causes are different. The former is caused by deposits of calcium phosphate crystals while the latter is caused by deposits of uric acid crystals on any joint.
The first stage of development of gouty arthritis involves elevated blood uric levels than the optimum. This first stage is commonly referred to as asymptomatic hyperuricemia. There are no visible symptoms at this stage, and more often than not, patients do not seek treatment. Elevation of uric blood levels is by itself not a problem. The problem, however, comes in when uric acid forms into crystals.
Otherwise a patient may remain healthy even with uric acid levels above what medical practitioners refer to as the optimum.
The second stage is called acute gouty arthritis. In this stage, hyperuricemia, mentioned in the first stage, has already caused formation and deposition of uric acid crystals on any of the susceptible joints. Inter-critical or interval stage occurs after crystals have already been deposited. The stage is silent as there are no symptoms or changes that occur since crystals were deposited on any joint.
The fourth and final stage is referred to as tophaceous gout. At this stage, permanent damage has already been done. In most cases, if gouty arthritis is detected at either of the earlier stages, a reversal of the condition is possible. However, at the fourth stage, nothing much may be done. As a matter of fact, removal of affected joints may be recommended.
As most cases of gouty arthritis are reported or experienced on the big toe; symptoms of the condition may be detected on the same part. The most common of this is nighttime attacks of redness, swelling, sharp pain and swelling on the big toe. The same symptom, although rarely, may be detected on feet, ankle, elbow and the knees section. Typically, the attacks last from a few weeks to months before fading away. However, the attacks keep recurring. It is this recurring nature of the attacks that should warn a patient that gouty arthritis is causing the problem.
In most cases a doctor takes samples of joint fluid to test for uric acid levels and uric crystals. In other cases, a doctor may take blood samples to evaluate the level of uric acid in the blood. These tests, however, are only relevant at the early stages of development of the condition. At the advanced stages, doctors may out rightly discern this condition without taking the aforementioned tests.
Doctors prescribe a shot of corticosteroids for gout treatment in early stages of gouty arthritis. The dosage assists in relieving pain, but this is only experienced after 24 hours of taking the first dosage. Dosage of corticosteroids is reduced as the condition of a patient improves. Advanced stages of the condition, though, may require advanced medical practices which may involve surgery on the affected parts.
Paying attention of what one eats is essential in managing gouty arthritis. Fatty and deep fried foods only serve to the case. Alcohol is also a detrimental to a patient struggling with the condition. Taking plenty of water and eating a variety of fruits, in addition to taking balanced diet, helps improve the condition in patients.
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