Gout: A first "Toe" experience! Pain you have in your toe can build until you're down for the count!
So have you seen the commercial of the guy struggling to carrying around the big beaker full of liquid that represents his gout complaining about his uric acid levels? If only it were that easy!! I have suffered with gout for several years. Given the choice of carrying that giant beaker around or having a gout attack........I would take carrying the beaker any day!! If you have ever had a gout attack you know what I mean. I like to explain to people how it feels by comparing it to an ice pick being repeatedly jammed into your big toe joint. My goal is to pass on my experience and maybe provide some helpful information that I've learned dealing with this miserable affliction over the years.
So what is gout? It is a kind of arthritis that occurs when uric acid build up in your blood and causes joint inflammation. When uric acid builds up in the fluid around the joints, uric acid crystals form. These crystals cause the joint to swell up and become inflamed. The doctor explained to me that it is basically like having tiny shards of glass in your joint. Gout usually manifests in your big toe joint first. This is not the only joint it can effect. My brother unfortunately gets it in his ankles, knees, and wrists! I am told the knee is the most unpleasant! I am not going to get too technical here, if you are reading this I'm sure you have already looked it up. If not go to any of the various medical websites such as Web MD or the Mayo clinic.
How my gout started
I believed my gout started because I made fun of a guy I worked with who suffered from gout! He called into work a couple times and said, "I can't make it to work my gout is flaring up"! I in turn harassed him about missing work because of his toe! Little did I know he evidently put some type of voodoo curse on me!
The next thing I know my big toe was hurting. Not real bad, just a nagging pain. I accused my wife of tucking in the sheets too tight! She thought I was nuts! At the time I was also running quite a bit, my foot began to hurt even more so I went to the doctor. Initially they said I had a stress fracture in my toe and gave me some Motrin and sent me on my way. Within a week "bam" it hit me! That ice pick pain I mentioned earlier! My big toe joint swelled up and turned bright red! The slightest movement caused me incredible pain! Back to the doctor. This time he knew immediately what it was and did a blood test to confirm it.
What I have learned
So here's the good part. What I have learned over the years dealing with my gout demon. If you have been diagnosed with gout, hopefully this will help!
Number one - Drink water!! Plenty of it. Do not let yourself get dehydrated! Dehydration is your enemy.
Number two - Exercise!! Exercise is good for your circulation and preventing those nasty little crystals from taking up residence in your joint! I have found that for me personally it is best to do something low impact. Biking, walking, elliptical machines are all good options. I also occasionally do yoga. Of course always consult with your physician before starting an exercise program.
Number three - haahaaahaaaahaaaaaa! Sorry! I watched to much Sesame Street as a child! Watch your diet! There are many different foods that contribute to gout flare ups. Red meat, seafood and alcohol are common culprits. I have found that too much shellfish such as shrimp, oysters, scallops, and crawfish trigger my flare ups more than anything else. If you eat any of the above watch your amount of intake. You will eventually figure out your limits.
Number four - Cherry extract. I firmly believe that taking 1000 milligrams of cherry extract daily is good preventive medicine. You will find many different views on the effectiveness of this supplement on gout. All I can say is it works for me. I won't say it will 100% prevent all attacks but I certainly think it reduces my flare ups. I can tell you that I do not take any gout medication on a regular basis. I only take colchicine when absolutely necessary! Which we will talk about in a moment! You can find the cherry extract supplements on numerous supplement websites or at your local supplement store in the mall. I would do some price comparison shopping on the internet. I usually stock up when i find a good deal.
Number five - Gout medication. There are numerous medications for gout. I have only been prescribed a couple of them. Let me just say that I usually experience very bad side effects! If you can combat your gout with only my first four steps you are lucky. I realize sometimes the medication is a necessary evil but I do not like taking it! It is really almost as bad as the gout attack itself! It affects every aspect of my gastrointestinal process and makes me feel horrible.
Number six - If you fell you are starting to have a gout attack, Treat it ASAP! Do not wait. It is going to get worse! This may sound strange, but I usually get a tingling feeling in my toe joint. Sometimes it almost feels like small electric shocks. I immediately start taking at least an over the counter anti-inflammatory drug. If it goes away, fine. If not, then I move to the prescription medications. When in doubt see a doctor.
Finally, Number seven - If you don't have gout, never make fun of someone who does!
Hopefully, I have accomplished what I set out to do and relayed some things that I have found helpful dealing with my gout over the years. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try to address them as it relates to my personal experience. Just remember I am not a doctor...... but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.