What’s Worse Than Big Toe Pain ?
For most people, gout starts with big toe pain. For many, it starts with a different joint, but your first concern is always the same – get rid of the pain.
From that moment, different obsessions kick in. Food obsessions, gout cure obsessions, and always, always keep the pain at bay.
Quite rightly, your doctor’s priority when you get an attack of gout pain, is to deal with the pain. Left untended, most pain will go away in a few days. Bad attacks may linger for over a week. But normally, the pain is so severe that you want to treat it straight away. Particularly if your mobility is reduced.
If it’s your first attack, once the pain has subsided, you need to discuss long term treatment with your doctor. If you have already arranged such treatment, e.g. allopurinol or other uric acid reducing drugs, it is vital that you continue to take them as well as pain medication.
All the above is pretty standard stuff. Once the big toe pain has gone, you’ll continue to work with your doctor and reduce your uric acid. Won’t you?
Well apparently not.
I was reminded yesterday of the abject failure of most long term gout management programs.
Many of the options help alleviate pain or possibly even prolong periods between attacks. However, NONE of the options can prevent the joint damage that uric acid deposits cause. General practitioners and Internet information often fail to stress (or even acknowledge) the implications of leaving gout untreated with medicine. Your affected joints will degenerate slowly over time and it won’t be fun.
The actions of Allopurinol and other drugs used to treat Gout are often not fully explained to patients. Allopurinol not only inhibits the production of uric acid but it also aids in the dissolving of the crystals that are already congregated in your joints. Over time, your joints get back to a healthy level of crystals – NOT a level that will destroy the joint.
Words aren’t powerful enough to stress the importance of this: If you have gout, find a good Rheumatologist and work with that person for the rest of your life. This is especially important for younger folks diagnosed with gout!
You won’t be sorry.
That heartfelt plea touched a nerve and reminded me of some of the studies I’ve seen over the past year or so. I touched on this in my December 2006 Newsletter. I mentioned a couple of statistical gout studies, the combination of which implies that only around 1 in 10 gout sufferers receive anything like proper long term gout management advice.
It is time to take a stand. Managing gout is more than treating big toe pain.
It is critical that you and your medical team monitor uric acid levels. It is critical that those levels are kept low enough to dissolve all existing uric acid crystals.
Failure to do so exposes you to the risk of joint damage, kidney stones, or both.
I am going to review all my web pages on GoutPal.com to ensure this message is clear.
I’d like to take this further, and mount a campaign for better gout treatment. I can think of many ways to promote this, but I need to get my facts straight first. I will prepare some hard hitting information about the dangers of long term joint damage from poorly treated gout, and seek some professional opinions on it. I’m thinking about simple, best practice guidelines that health care providers can follow, and gout sufferers can understand.
If you, or your rheumatologist, have any suitable information that would help me with this, I’d love to receive it.