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FAQs about Gout: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and More

Gout is an inflammatory disease that produces severe joint pain, edema, and stiffness. Let's look at the FAQs about gout.

Gout is an arthritic condition characterized by the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints. Uric acid is a breakdown product of purines, which are found in a variety of diets. A problem with uric acid management and crystallization of these chemicals in joints can lead to painful arthritis episodes. Gout has the distinction of being one of the most widely documented medical conditions in history. Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in men, affecting more than 3 million Americans.[1] Let’s look at the FAQs about gout such as its symptoms, causes, treatment and how remote monitoring can help patients.

What are the symptoms of gout?

Gout flare-ups can occur quickly and linger for days or weeks. These flares are followed by long periods of remission without symptoms—weeks, months, or years—before another flare occurs. Gout is usually limited to one joint at a time. It’s most common in the big toe. The minor toe joints, the ankle, and the knee are all typically affected, in addition to the big toe. The following are possible symptoms in the afflicted joint(s)[2]

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Heat

What causes gout?

Gout occurs when urate crystals build up in joints, producing inflammation and excruciating pain. When blood contains too much uric acid, urea crystals can form. When the body breaks down purines, which are chemicals found naturally in your body, uric acid is produced.

Purines can also be found in some foods, such as red meat and organ meats like liver. Anchovies, sardines, mussels, scallops, trout, and tuna are examples of purine-rich seafood. Higher amounts of uric acid are promoted by alcoholic beverages, particularly beer, and drinks sweetened with fruit sugar (fructose).

How is gout diagnosed?

When confirming gout, doctors evaluate the following factors:[4]

  • Symptoms: Tell the provider about your symptoms, including how often they occur and how long they last.
  • Physical examination: Your provider will look for edema, redness, and warmth in the affected joint(s).
  • A test can be used to determine the amount of uric acid in your blood.
  • X-rays, ultrasounds, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used to capture photographs of the afflicted joint(s).
  • Aspiration: A needle may be used to remove fluid from the joint. A microscope is used to look for uric acid crystals or other conditions such as bacteria with infection or another type of crystal.

How is gout treated?

Gout can be treated with drugs prescribed by your doctor.

Some medications can aid with symptom management:[3]

  • Pain and edema can be reduced with NSAIDs. Some people can’t take NSAIDs because they have kidney illnesses, stomach ulcers, or other health issues.
  • If taken within 24 hours of a gout episode, colchicine can help reduce inflammation and pain. It is administered orally.
  • Pain and swelling can be reduced with corticosteroids. Steroids can be taken orally or by injection.

How Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) can help in gout treatment?

Gout patients need to stay connected with healthcare providers and follow proper medication all the time. Telehealth and remote patient monitoring or RPM are good alternatives to a face-to-face appointment. RPM provides patients with new ways to manage their health and have access to their health data. Access to care can also be expanded, and this virtual access has the potential to reduce healthcare expenses. Given the difficulties gout patients encounter in getting to a doctor’s office, remote health monitoring technologies help reduce the need for patients to travel whenever there is pain to the affected part.

Takeaway

Gout is an inflammatory disease that produces severe joint pain, edema, and stiffness. It commonly affects the metatarsophalangeal joint, located at the base of the big toe. The presence of too much uric acid in the body is the main cause. RPM, a modality of Telehealth, can help patients stay connected with their doctors.

References:

  1. “Diseases and Conditions Gout.” Diseases and Conditions Gout, www.rheumatology.org, https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Gout. Accessed 1 July 2022.
  2. “Gout | Arthritis | CDC.” Gout | Arthritis | CDC, www.cdc.gov, 27 July 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/gout
  3. “Gout – Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.org, 6 Mar. 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gout/symptoms-causes/syc-20372897.
  4. @ClevelandClinic. “Gout: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4755-gout. Accessed 1 July 2022.

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