This website recalls my experience of the pain of gout and what I've done to hopefully ensure I never again experience another agonising attack.
Some gout sufferers may want to know the ins and outs of the condition but EVERY gout sufferer wants to know what they can do to relieve, or better still avoid, the excruciating pain of gout.
I first had an attack of gout whilst on holiday but didn't realise at the time what it was. If, like me, gout is just something you'd heard of then it's very easy to try and explain it away as an inadvertent knock on the joint that has then swollen up badly, or an insect bite, or anything really.
It took a few attacks before I went to the doctor. One look at the red, swollen, throbbing toe joint and it was instant diagnosis (followed by tests to confirm).
I'm making this point because there may be people reading this who are still at this stage and, like me, putting it down to something else. It's best to get yourself checked out because in my experience the subsequent attacks are a lot worse. In fact during my first attack I was able to hobble around a lot easier than during subsequent attacks.
Gout is caused by uric acid crystals forming in a joint. This is often the big toe joint but can also affect ankles, knees, elbows, fingers etc. I've only ever experienced gout in my big toe joints, usually on my right foot.
Uric acid crystals could be described as long and 'spikey'. Your body's own defences then go into overdrive to rid your body of these foreign particles and you experience swelling and intense pain. The whole joint is rigid during the attack and cannot bear even the slightest touch - not even a sock or bedsheet. I once read that the pain of gout is like dropping a cannon ball on your toe. Whilst I very much agree with this analogy, that pain would subside after a while if you kept your foot perfectly still. Unfortunately with gout, keeping the joint perfectly still will have no effect whatsoever. I'd prefer to compare the onset of a gout attack to someone hitting your toe joint with a hammer non-stop for a few hours.
Once the initial onset abates you are left with a joint that is so sensitive that any movement is very painful. I don't just mean the joint itself - even moving the affected limb hurts.
During attacks of gout I have taken Diclofenac to ease the pain and inflammation. Personally I don't think Diclofenac is up to the job as the pain is still intense, though I guess it would be even worse without it.
One thing I've tried if I'm lucky enough to wake up in the very early stages is to soak my foot in water as hot as I can take it. I've not seen any medical support for this but gout tends to attack at night when our bodies are cooler and it tends to attack in our extremities for the same reason. So I reasoned that immersing the joint in hot water would help reverse the formation of the uric acid crystals. I accompanied this with constant wiggling of the toe joint (if I'd caught it early enough for this to tolerable).
I'd have to resign myself to a good hour of doing this and then go back to bed with a couple of pairs of socks and a hot water bottle but I've definitely avoided some attacks by doing this.
A doctor will probably tell you there is no cure for gout in so much as once you have it you will always have it. However, if you can take steps to ensure you never again suffer an attack then that's got to be the next best thing, yes?
For a number of years I tried cutting out offal and reducing my red meat intake. The enjoyment of every party was tainted with the thought of another attack if I overdid the beer etc.
I tried the nettle tea and eating LOTS of cherries but still the attacks came. My doctor wanted me to start taking Allopurinol daily but the thought of a daily drug for the rest of my life was scary.
So I started my own research on the internet and found a lot more information than when I was first diagnosed. I now follow a plan that has required a few simple dietary changes and have not experienced the pain of gout since.