We’ve talked a lot here about the different types of arthritis, and there’s still one more to discuss – gouty arthritis. You might not know that what everyone refers to as “gout” is actually a complex form of arthritis, which can be acute as well as chronic.
Gouty arthritis is caused by the build- up of uric acid, in the blood. Uric acid is a chemical which is produced when your body breaks down purines, a natural substance that is found in all foods. A few foods have a particularly high concentration of purines, such as organ meats like kidney, some fish like mackerel, herring, and sardines, and purines are also found in yeast. This is why beer can also be a culprit in creating flare ups of gout
While most uric acid dissolves in the blood, and then is eliminated via the kidneys in urine, when a person’s body produces too much uric acid or has difficulty eliminating it, the accumulation of uric acid can lead to the deposit of uric crystals in the fluid around the joints, and this is gouty arthritis.
Risk factors for gouty arthritis include heredity, diabetes, and kidney disease. The condition occurs with higher frequency in men and post-menopausal women, and in those who drink a lot of beer. Even some types of diuretics (water pills) can interfere with the body’s natural attempts to remove uric acid.
Typically gouty arthritis affects joints in the lower extremities such as the big toe, the ankle, and the knee. However, gout in the joints of the fingers and hands is especially painful, especially when the joint is red and swollen. During an acute episode, activities of daily living are greatly interfered with, as the affected joints prevent any kind of normal use of hands and fingers.
Besides medication that your physician may prescribe, you can also be pro-active in helping to prevent, or at least, reduce, acute episodes. Increase your daily fluid intake to 8 to 16 cups (about 2 to 4 liters) of fluid each day, including at least half water, and limiting or avoid alcohol. Eat healthy, low-fat, anti-inflammatory foods, and do what you can to maintaining a healthy weight.
As with all types of arthritis, part of the management regime should include making sure that you do not put added stress and strain on the affected joints. In the case of the fingers and hands, this means you’ll need to be aware putting too much pressure on your finger joints when you are using a writing utensil. Using an ergonomic pen such as my UGLee Pen allows you to relax your hand while writing – this pen actually grips you!
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