Being unable to walk can make daily tasks nearly impossible, especially if every step causes you pain. For those suffering from tophaceous gout, just the simple act of trying to stand can be extremely difficult. Fortunately, modern-day medicine now understands many of the underlying causes and has developed numerous treatment options over the last few decades. However, to become privy to all that contemporary science has to offer in terms of tophaceous gout and the many treatment options available, it’s important to first understand what tophaceous gout is (and isn’t) as well as appreciate the various risk factors associated with it.
What Is Tophaceous Gout?
As a form of inflammatory arthritis, tophaceous gout is a relatively common chronic condition that affects about 200,000 people per year in the United States alone. On a global scale, figures are nearly twice as high since tophaceous gout can affect people of all ages. And although the telltale swelling and redness are usually found on or around the fingers, toes and elbows, there have some cases where tophaceous gout has been reported in areas such as the vocal cords, spinal cord, and even the ears.
Causes and Diagnosis
Tophaceous gout is caused by an excessive amount of uric acid in the blood. That uric acid is crystalline and eventually begins forming nodular masses, or tophi, in the soft tissue areas of the body. The condition may also be caused by one of the following as well:
- A genetic predisposition to or family history of excessive uric acid levels
- Age (especially after 50)
- Pre-existing heart disease
- Pre-existing kidney disease
- Exposure to certain medications
Diagnosis typically requires a series of lab testing and/or imaging to confirm, but extreme cases may sometimes be preliminarily diagnosed on sight through the trained eye. However, not all swelling and/or pain in the soft tissue areas of the body is indicative of tophaceous gout which, in every case, is associated with certain other symptoms (discussed below).
The most commonly used method of diagnosis for tophaceous gout is to have fluid removed from the affected soft tissues before it’s examined under a microscope for uric acid crystals. The procedure is relatively painless and does not require a lengthy stay in the hospital or the use of anesthesia.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Tophaceous Gout?
Tophaceous gout is characterized by extreme pain and/or swelling in the joints. The severity and/or location thereof is determined by numerous individual factors and can be better understood through a brief discussion with your doctor. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for tophaceous gout, only treatment options to help manage the symptoms, which generally include the following:
- A sudden and severe pain in the joints, most commonly the big toe
- Tender joints elsewhere
- Joint warmth
- Difficulty moving the joint
In most cases, bouts of tophaceous gout last between several days to several weeks.
Are There Any Risk Factors?
Some of the triggers for tophaceous gout include a variety of things that can put even an otherwise healthy person at risk. Acute attacks of are generally caused by dehydration, excessive consumption of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, beer, liquor, seafood and/or red meat. For some people, undergoing surgery may also increase their risk of developing tophaceous (chronic) gout.
What Treatments Are Available for Tophaceous Gout?
The most effective treatments for tophaceous gout include strategic lifestyle changes which support a healthier body. Fits of gout can be life-altering, but left untreated, gout can cause irreparable damage to the kidneys and/or joints as well as permanent tophi deposits. Properly managed, however, tophaceous gout does not have to significantly reduce the quality of your life.
Simple dietary changes may help speed up healing time and reduce attacks. In fact, several studies have shown that eating an adequate daily amount of cherries may prevent gout attacks altogether. Common remedial treatment options usually involve prescribing one or more medications to lower the uric acid levels in your body.
Typically, the medicines used to treat tophaceous gout include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen, Celecoxib, Indomethacin
- Xanthine Oxidase Inhibitors (XOIs)
- Anti-Gout Agents
Figuring out the treatment option that’s right for you requires making an appointment with your doctor. However, there are some things you can do at home to manage the symptoms in the meantime.
Three Safe and Effective At-Home Treatments for Tophaceous Gout
Self-care for tophaceous gout is both easy and inexpensive. For most people, the following three things can be done at home to treat and/or manage the symptoms thereof:
- Take an Over-the-Counter Anti-Inflammatory Medication
A good OTC anti-inflammatory medicine can help reduce swelling and pain. If used as directed, it may be taken throughout the duration of a tophaceous gout attack or until medical care can be obtained.
- Apply Ice Packs to the Affected Area
If you have an aversion to taking medications or simply prefer a more natural approach to treating the pain and swelling associated with tophaceous gout, apply a cold pack to the affected area for about 10-15 minutes as needed.
- Keep the Joint in an Elevated Position
When all else fails, be sure to keep your affected joint in a position that’s elevated above your heart. This will prevent any further swelling while also slightly reducing pain and discomfort. If things become unbearable, apply ice and/or take a dose of an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen to manage the symptoms until you can see a doctor.
Tophaceous Gout in Summary
The inability to comfortably move your body can be extremely painful and frustrating, especially when you already have other medical problems to worry about. Untreated, however, tophaceous gout may pose a serious threat to your health. While there is no cure for it yet, this chronic condition’s painful symptoms can be treated with the proper measures either at home or under a doctor’s supervision.
If you enjoyed reading this article about Tophaceous Gout, you may also find an interest in reading What You Should Know about Peroneal Tendonitis.