Can You Get Gout in Your Hands?
Gout is a common medical condition, in Australia and around the globe. Locally, approximately 4.5% of Australians have gout, or have experienced gout before. And while gout is primarily experienced in the big toe, gout can affect other areas of the body (including your hands!).
This article will explore gout in hands, including causes, symptoms, and treatment options. Let’s first look at gout on a more general level:
What is Gout?
Gout occurs when excess uric acid in the blood crystallizes and gathers in joints, causing inflammation and intense pain. While most common in the big toe, gout can also affect the hands and other joints. Symptoms include throbbing pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Symptoms of gout include:
- Throbbing pain and swelling in the affected joint and surrounding tissue
- Visible inflammation with redness and warmth
- Stiffness and limited range of motion, making everyday tasks challenging
While joints like toes or knees are more common for experiencing gout symptoms, the hands, elbows, or spinal joints can also be affected. So, can you get gout in your hands? Absolutely. And it can be extremely painful and uncomfortable when developed in the hands. Let’s take a look at what causes gout in the hands:
What Causes Gout in the Hands?
Causes of gout in the hands are similar to what causes gout in other joints. Genetics, diet, medical conditions, and certain medications can all contribute to increased uric acid levels.
Those with a genetic predisposition to gout have less efficient uric acid metabolism, particularly regarding purines.
A diet high in purines can lead to gout and make flare-ups more regular. Foods to avoid include organ and game meats, seafood, alcohol, and certain vegetables.
Obesity, diabetes, and high blood sugar are among many medical conditions that increase uric acid build-up and the risk of developing gout.
Low-dose aspirin and thiazide diuretics can raise purine levels and produce more uric acid, increasing gout risk.
How is Gout Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of gout is often pretty straightforward as many symptoms will be visible. A medical professional will provide a physical assessment, review your medical history, and perform a blood test to check for elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. Your doctor may also conduct a joint fluid test to look for the presence of urate crystals in the affected joint or area.
In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays or ultrasounds may also be used to help diagnose gout or rule out other conditions with similar symptoms. If gout is diagnosed and confirmed, your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that may include medication, lifestyle changes, and other therapies to manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups.
Treatments of Gout in Hands
Prompt medical treatment is crucial to avoid the persistent, painful symptoms of gout that can affect daily life. Treatment involves addressing symptoms immediately, as well as reducing the risk of gout flare-ups in the long-term.
NSAIDs like ibuprofen are commonly used to reduce pain and swelling associated with gout. Other medications can help lower uric acid levels in the body.
Drainage and Surgery
In severe cases, drainage or surgery can remove fluid buildup in the hands caused by gout. Joint fusion or realignment procedures may also be necessary.
Long-Term Uric Acid Reduction
Reducing purine-rich foods, reducing alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight, and engaging in physical activity can all help reduce the risk and severity of gout symptoms. Occupational therapy can also help manage symptoms and maintain joint mobility and hand strength.
In Australia, roughly 4.5% of the population has gout, a common medical condition that can cause intense pain and inflammation in various joints, including the hands. It's important to effectively manage and treat gout before it becomes a long-term health problem. Lifestyle changes, medication, drainage or surgery, and occupational therapy can all help reduce the risk and severity of gout symptoms - whether it's in your hands or elsewhere in the body. If you're experiencing gout in your hands or other joints, consult with a physician and consider reaching out to Apricus Health for comprehensive care and treatment options in Townsville.