If you have gout, you know that flare-ups can result in some of the worst pain you’ve ever experienced. The attack can occur without warning, in the middle of the night, and can really hurt, not to mention interrupt your daily life.
If you’re having a flare, it can be hard to even imagine touching it (side note: always keep your toes out of the sheets when you go to sleep just in case you get an attack during the tight—just the weight of the covers can sometimes be agonizing). But alas, there are ways to keep the pain at bay.
First, what is gout?
A form of arthritis, gout most commonly affects your toes, it can show up in your ankles, fingers, wrists, elbows, and knees too. You might notice this specific part of your body is red, hot, painful, stiff, or swollen (especially when you touch it.)
Gout is caused by excess uric acid in the bloodstream, and the pain is due to the formation of uric acid crystals and how your body responds to them. Men are more likely to get gout because they produce more uric acid than women, though women are still susceptible. And if you have a family history of gout, you could also be at risk since it tends to run in families.
How can I help my gout?
While factors like family history or gender you can’t control, there are ones that you can. Certain lifestyle choices may affect your risk of gout —drinking alcohol, for example, interferes with the removal of uric acid from the body. Additionally, foods like red meat or drinks with fructose are known to increase your risk, so if you’re worried at all, be sure to limit those.
Your weight is another huge factor in your risk for gout. If you’re overweight, there’s likely more turnover of body tissue, which means more production of uric acid. Additionally, the more body fat you carry, the more likely you’ll experience an increase in your levels of systemic inflammation.
While doctors typically prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), colchicine, or corticosteroids to keep your pain at bay, there are some more natural ways you might be able to help with the pain. Check out these expert-approved tips.
According to a study published in the journal Arthritis, ginger contains many anti-inflammatory properties that could help with gout attacks. Try throwing this root into stir-fries or adding it to your drinks for a tangy taste.
Drink lots of water
H2O can help get rid of the uric acid crystals that cause gout by flushing it out of your body.
Consuming cherries or even cherry extract just two days before a gout attack helped lower the risk of it happening by 35 percent, in a study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, compared to those who didn’t consume anything.
Ice the affected area
Nothing like a good old ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) for pain, right? Applying the cool surface to the pain will help ease any pain and inflammation.
Elevate your foot
Try propping your foot up on pillows as you sit or lay down, keeping it higher than your chest. This can help make the swelling go down.
Use a walker
If your gout is on your toe, using a cane or walker to get around can help keep pressure off of it.
If all else fails and you don’t have any type of medication to ease the pain, pop an ibuprofen. Just don’t take aspirin, which has been shown to make gout attacks worse. Always be sure you’re clearing any medications you take with your doctor.
Do you or someone you know have gout? How do you or they usually find relief?