Gout: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Gout is a condition that was first identified as early as 2640 BC by the ancient Egyptians. In the 5th Century BC, Hippocrates, the legendary Greek physician, referred to gout as "unwalkable disease," noting links between the condition and certain lifestyle habits.1

Despite its long history, gout remains a major public health concern, with an increasing number of people suffering from what can be an extremely painful condition. Gout has also been related to an increased incidence of cardiovascular and metabolic disease.11

This complex form of arthritis is characterized by the onset of sudden and severe pains. A veteran visiting a VA Hospital in Birmingham, AL, said, "I've been shot, beat up, stabbed and thrown out of a helicopter, but none of that compared to the gout."1

Fortunately, gout is treatable and there are preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing the painful condition.2

Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis - a condition affecting the joints and musculoskeletal system. It is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in men, and although it is more likely to affect men, women become more susceptible to it after the menopause.

Gout commonly affects the base of the big toe. When affecting this area, the condition can also be referred to as podagra.

The condition is characterized by sudden and severe pains, redness and tenderness in the joints, most commonly in the base of the big toe. When affecting the big toe, gout can also be referred to as podagra.

These symptoms occur when uric acid, a product of ordinary metabolic processes, is deposited in the form of needle-like crystals in tissues and fluids within the body. Chalky deposits of uric acid known as tophi can also form as lumps under the skin surrounding the joints. Uric acid crystals can also collect in the kidneys, sometimes resulting in kidney stones.

At its most disabling, gout can cause permanent damage to joints and the kidneys. However, it normally takes a long period, around 10 years, without any proper treatment for the disease to reach this advanced stage, however.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 2.6 million Americans were affected by gout in 2005 and that this figure is projected to rise to 3.6 million by 2025

source: : http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/

CT Scans Might Help Diagnose Gout in Some Cases

CT Scans Might Help Diagnose Gout in Some Cases

CT scans can help detect gout that's been missed by the current standard testing method, a new study suggests.

Gout is a common and painful form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body. The standard test -- called needle aspiration -- involves taking fluid or tissue samples from a gout-affected joint and checking them for uric acid crystals.

This test usually detects gout in patients, but not always.

In this study, Mayo Clinic researchers found that dual energy CT scans detected gout in one-third of patients who had negative results on the needle aspiration test. The CT scans were particularly effective in patients who'd had several gout-like episodes but had remained undiagnosed.

After CT scans pinpointed what appeared to be uric acid crystals, ultrasound-guided needle aspiration was used to collect samples from those areas, according to the study published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

CT scans can help detect gout

"These were in part patients that had been falsely diagnosed with diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or labeled with a different type of inflammatory arthritis, resulting in a completely different, and often not effective, treatment approach," study author Dr. Tim Bongartz said in a Mayo news release.

"And there were patients who remained undiagnosed for several years with, for example, unexplained chronic elbow or Achilles tendinitis, where the CT scan then helped us to pick up uric acid deposits," the rheumatologist added.

These findings don't suggest that CT scans should be the first test used to diagnose gout, Bongartz said. He noted that needle aspiration is effective in most cases, and that this study found it was superior to CT scans in diagnosing patients with their first gout flare-up.

Early and accurate diagnosis of gout is important because it is treated with medications different from those used with other forms of inflammatory arthritis. Proper drug treatment and changes in eating habits can help prevent more gout attacks and the spread of the disease to other joints.

"What we are learning from the dual-energy CT scans has really changed our perception of where gout can occur and how it can manifest," Bongartz said. "The ability to visualize those deposits clearly broadens our perspective on gout."

The study disclosed that the medical technology company Siemens Medical Solutions provided partial salary support for the study's senior author through an unrestricted research grant through Mayo.

Source: HealthDay News 

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