Physical Therapy For Gouty Arthritis
By Erik Parkin
Gout occurs as a result of excessive uric acid in the body. It’s a disease and its overload in the body leads to formation of tiny crystals of urate that deposit in various tissues of the body, especially the joints. When crystals form in the joints, it causes recurring attacks of joint inflammation (arthritis).
Gout is a chronic and progressive disease. Chronic gout can lead to deposits of hard lumps of uric acid in the tissues, particularly in and around the joints and may cause joint destruction, decreased kidney function, and kidney stones.
Gout arthritis is typically an extremely painful attack with a rapid onset of joint inflammation. Intense joint inflammation can occur when the immune system reacts, causing white blood cells to engulf the uric acid crystals and chemical messengers of inflammation to be released, leading to pain, heat, and redness of the joint tissues. As gout progresses, the attacks of gouty arthritis typically occur more frequently and often in additional joints. Mostly, gout arthritis frequently involves the joint of the big toe. However, it can also affect small joints in the fingers, as well as large joints, such as the knee and hip.
What are the Other Causes of Gout Arthritis?
Other risk factors for developing gout include obesity, moderate to heavy alcohol intake, high blood pressure, and abnormal kidney functioning, in addition to an inherited abnormality in handling uric acid. Moreover, certain diseases lead to excessive production of uric acid in the body. Leukemia, lymphomas, hemoglobin disorders are some examples of these diseases.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
The most common site of an acute gout attack of arthritis, is the small joint at the base of the big toe. Other joints that are commonly affected include the knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. A rapid onset of pain in the affected joint followed by warmth, swelling, reddish discoloration, and marked tenderness are all symptoms of acute gout attacks. Tenderness can be so intense that even a blanket touching the skin over the affected joint can be unbearable.
With acute gout attacks, patients can develop fever. These painful attacks usually subside in hours or days, with or without medication. Most patients with gout will experience repeated attacks of arthritis over the years.
Nodular masses of uric acid crystals deposit in different soft-tissue areas of the body, in chronic gout. They are most commonly found as hard nodules around the fingers, at the tips of the elbows, in the ears, and around the big toe. These nodules can appear anywhere in the body.
How can Physiotherapy Help?
Physiotherapy helps the patient to keep the joints working, as it is important to exercise sufficiently. First, physiotherapy focuses on stopping the acute inflammation of joints affected by gout arthritis, which is critical. Second, it addresses the long-term management of the disease in order to prevent future gouty arthritis and shrink gouty uric acid crystal deposits in the tissues.
But a word of caution: In the case of gouty arthritis, physical activity is not only extremely painful, but may also help to rapidly erode joint surfaces by the action of uric acid crystals gouging into the surfaces. One of the best ways to prevent kidney stones and the recurrence of of gout is to exercise. A professional physiotherapist will outline a plan personally for you, assessing your medical history and physical body. You will be given various stretching and strengthening exercises to perform, which will strengthen your joints and muscles.
Attacks of gouty arthritis generally resolve within a week with the use of aggressive medications to reduce inflammation. Recurrent gouty arthritis is not only painful and frustrating, but it can lead to permanent damage to cartilage and bone. In case you’re already suffering from gouty arthritis or if you feel that you may develop gouty arthritis in the near future, contact our professional physiotherapists in Edmonton, today!