How A Rheumatologist Can Diagnose Your Gout And Treat The Condition

Posted on: 13 May 2021

Gout is a painful type of arthritis that commonly affects the big toe. The condition comes and goes, and the flares come on suddenly. Gout often flares up at night, making it impossible to sleep due to the burning pain. If you've been having pain, swelling, or redness around your big toe joint, consult a rheumatologist for a diagnosis and treatment. Here's how a rheumatologist tests for gout and treats it.

Tests To Diagnose Gout

Joint pain and swelling could be caused by other forms of arthritis too, so your doctor needs to make an accurate diagnosis so gout can be treated properly. Besides a physical examination and taking a history of your symptoms, the rheumatologist can draw fluid from the joint in your big toe to test it for crystals. The accumulation of these crystals is what causes gout and what sets it apart from other types of arthritis. The doctor might also order imaging tests to visualize the crystals in your toe.

Medical Treatments That Help Gout

Your doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and pain. You may be instructed to buy over-the-counter medications if prescription drugs aren't necessary. Your doctor can also prescribe gout medications. Some of these work to reduce uric acid production and others work to help you break down and excrete uric acid.

The crystals that cause pain and swelling with gout come from uric acid, so controlling uric acid helps control gout. Since repeated episodes of gout can cause joint damage, your rheumatologist wants to control your condition to prevent as many flares as possible or to reduce their severity.

Dietary Changes That Control Gout

Your doctor might also recommend dietary changes when you have gout. Some foods are high in purines. When purines break down, uric acid forms, and that can raise uric acid levels in your body and contribute to gout. Foods such as organ meat, red meat, seafood, alcohol, and fructose might need to be limited or avoided. Your doctor can provide you with a list of foods that are high in purines.

A dietary change might help you manage gout in another way. There is a link between gout, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. By improving your diet and getting daily exercise, you can lose weight and improve your overall health. This may also help you prevent future episodes of gout.

Being treated by a rheumatologist when you have gout is a good approach since they are trained in the treatment of arthritis conditions. The goals of managing gout properly are to reduce flares so you don't suffer from pain and to protect your toe joint from damage.

For more information, contact a local clinic, like the Sarasota Arthritis Center .