By Dr Harsh Sharma, DHMS, BHMS
Published December 24, 2014, Last updated October 21, 2016
Gout is one of the three forms of arthritis. The other two are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a normal process of wear and tear that is related to aging. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory process that is related to the immunity of the body. Entirely different from the other two, gout develops as a matter of one’s lifestyle. In fact, it is often called the disease of the kings. That is because it develops mostly because of the high life associated with kings.
What is Gout
Gout manifests as sudden swelling, pain, tenderness and redness of the joints, more so in the big toe of the foot. The pain may be so sudden that one sleeps normally and gets up in the middle of the night with intense pain in the toes. Although the pain occurs suddenly, the deposition of urate crystals in the joints is a long drawn process. It does not occur overnight. Rather, it takes years of progressive deposition for the threshold to be reached when it starts causing pain. The pain is accompanied by tenderness and one cannot bear even the slightest touch of anything. The painful part if often red, hot and swollen. One can be forgiven for thinking that the toe had caught fire. It normally affects the men more than women. Post menopausal women are almost equally likely to be affected as the men but in the younger age, women are less predisposed. Family history of gout also raises your chances of getting it.
Symptoms of Gout
- The most likely symptom of gout is Podagra. Podagra is the presence of warmth, redness, heat and swelling of a joint. This is mostly seen in the big toe of the foot. Another characteristic symptom of gout is that it starts suddenly. There are no premonitions. It does not develop gradually. One is fine in the daytime and at night he is woken from the sleep with intense pain and tenderness. The affected part may be so tender that one cannot bear to have even a feather touch the area. The pain is also the worst on the first day.
- Although it is more likely to occur in the great toe, it may occur in other joints too. Ankles, knees, hands and wrists may also be affected.
- The affected joint may appear red in colour as if infected. In some cases the colour may be more purplish.
- The joint also feels warm to touch. One may even feel heat or burning sensation in that area.
- Swelling and redness of the affected area is also commonly present.
- The mobility of the joint is affected and one is unable to move the joint in a normal manner. At times, it may be completely curtailed. In some other cases, one is able to move the joint but not without pain.
- Some patients feel itching of and around the affected joint. This itching is more likely when the initial phase is over and some healing is starting to set in.
- At times, there is peeling off of the skin too.
- In some patients, tophi are the first manifestation of gout. Tophi are small nodules in the hands, elbows or the ears.
- In acute gout, the attack usually lasts for a week or thereabout. Some people get a recurrent attack within some months of the first attack. Others may not have it for years together.
- In chronic cases, there may not be as intense pain as in acute gout but the pain is likely to persist for long period of time.
- Bursitis may occur in some cases. Bursae are fluid sacs present in the elbow or the knee and cushion the tissues. Inflammation of these fluid sacs is known as bursitis.
Causes of Gout
- Gout occurs due to the collection of crystals of urate in the joints. They cause inflammation of the tissues of the joint. This accumulation of the urate crystals occurs when you have hyperuricaemia or excess of uric acid in your blood. Uric acid is a normal byproduct of the body’s digestive system. It is produced when the body breaks down purines. These purines are foud in some foods, more so in meat, seafood, alcohol, beer and some foods rich in fructose. In some cases, one may be taking a lot of purines and subsequently these purines are being changed into uric acid.
- On the other hand, one may not be able to flush out the uric acid being produced. Uric acid is normally flushed out through the kidneys mixed with one’s urine. In case the ability of the kidneys to excrete uric acid is compromised, one is likely to have an excess of uric acid in one’s blood.
- Being overweight may also predispose one to high uric acid levels.
- Regular use of some medicines like aspirin or diuretics may also cause uric acid levels to rise.
- Hypertension or high blood pressure may also cause the uric acid levels to rise in some cases.
- In some cases, a sudden loss of weight may also raise the uric acid levels.
Homeopathic treatment of Gout
Out of the three forms of arthritis, gout is the one which is the easiest to cure. It may be surprising to many but this is the reality. I am talking from the perspective of a homeopathic doctor. While those who have been used to allopathic treatments, this may seem surprising, there is no need to take prolonged medications. A little care in diet, a little exercise and some homeopathic medication can easily get you back in shape. The homeopathic medicines are so effective that there is hardly any recurrence. The secret of the effectiveness of Homeopathy is that it does not seek to artificially lower the uric acid levels in the blood. Rather, it tends to improve the normal functioning of the human body so that only the normal levels of uric acid are formed which correspond to the purine intake of the person. At the same time, the excretory system is strengthened so that it is able to excrete any excess uric acid in the blood. This serves to maintain the uric acid levels in the body. At the same time, the deposited urate crystals are slowly but surely loosened and excreted. The inflammation being caused by the urate crystals resolves and the pain and other attending symptoms get cured. Homeopathic medicines like Lycopodium, Benzoic Acid, Pulsatilla, Pareira Brava, Berberis Vulgaris and Urtica Urens are the prominent ones that are used in the treatment of gout. In all cases, constitutional medicine is required to prevent recurrence and set the whole body’s functioning in order.