What is gout?
Gout is a chronic condition that is characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in the joints.
It occurs when you have a high level of uric acid in your blood, which your body produces when you consume certain foods or drinks, such as alcohol, steak, and seafood.   Uric acid is supposed to dissolve in your blood and pass through the kidneys without any problems. But when your body produces too much uric acid, the acid can build up and form crystals in the joints or surrounding tissues. These crystals are what cause the pain, inflammation, and discomfort you may experience when you have gout.
Who is affected?
Anyone can be diagnosed with gout. But men are more likely than women to have gout, although this difference is less relevant in the years after menopause. Gout and lower quality of gout care is more common among black Americans. 
Numerous factors can make you more at risk of gout, including genetics, dietary conditions, medications, and other medical conditions.
What happens in your body?
Common symptoms of gout include: 
- Intense joint pain that starts suddenly and usually affects your big toe, but can also impact the ankles, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows. Often accompanied by redness, warmth and swelling, this pain is usually its worst within the first several hours, and flares can last for days or weeks.
- Stiffness which can result in limited mobility
- Lumps around the joints
How do I know if I have gout?
It is important to get an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible to make sure that the condition does not worsen. The best way to do this is by visiting your doctor and, if possible, getting a referral to visit a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in treating gout.
Some ways that your doctor can assess whether you have the condition is through joint fluid tests, blood tests, X-ray imaging, ultrasound, and CT scan.
How is it treated?
There is no known cure for gout, but integrative interventions have shown to reduce pain and discomfort and improve quality of life by slowing the condition’s progression and easing the severity of symptoms. 
Integrative interventions offer a holistic approach to treatment. Instead of just conventional medicine, integrative treatments combine conventional medicine with nutritional tools, mind-body medicine, and manual medicine for a holistic approach to treating gout.
For those new to integrative medicine, learn more here
Many people with gout find that certain medications work for them and others do not. So, in order to find an effective conventional treatment, people with gout often work with their doctors to determine which medication works best with their body and needs.
With the right medication, it is possible to manage symptoms like pain and inflammation and prevent the rapid worsening of the condition. Before starting to take any medication, be sure to ask your doctor about possible side effects. And if you notice any of the side effects once you start your treatment, let your doctor know as soon as possible.
Examples of conventional treatments:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (common name: ibuprofen), or NSAIDs, are commonly used treatments for inflammation and pain resulting from gout. Indomethacin is the NSAID of choice among many people with the condition. 
Research shows that gentle, low-intensity mind-body treatments can help Gout patients with mobility, mood, decreased pain, and more. There are a wide variety of mind-body treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, ranging from deep breathing to aqua-therapy.
When living with chronic pain, engaging in regular movement and exercise may feel difficult and unnecessary. But doing so can actually improve your symptoms.
Before starting a physical exercise regimen, consult with your doctor about what might be the best activities for you and your body.
Examples of mind-body medicine:
Tai chi is a Chinese practice of slow, low-intensity movements that researchers have found can improve mobility, functionality, and psychological health in patients with chronic conditions.
Relaxation therapies like deep breathing techniques, meditation, and biofeedback have been shown to help patients ease anxiety and better manage chronic pain. Researchers at the University of Calgary suggest that mind-body treatments like these can help with physical conditions.
Manual treatments are administered by certified clinicians, using physical pressure and stimulation on the body to reduce gout symptoms. Treatments can vary in intensity and incorporate other elements such as heat and aromatherapy to enhance relief.
Examples of manual medicine:
Physical therapy can help with physical strengthening, mobility, and overall functionality. Licensed therapists provide one-on-one treatment and teach patients self-management techniques so that they can improve their condition on their own too.
Nutrition plays a crucial role in your overall health, and is a tool you can use to combat joint damage, reduce inflammation, and manage other gout symptoms.
Just like with conventional, mind-body, and manual medicines, there is not one ideal treatment for every gout patient. When selecting nutritional tools to treat your condition, it is best to consult with your doctor or work with a dietitian, naturopath, or nutritionist to find out the best diet for you.
A gout diet may help reduce uric acid levels in the blood. A gout diet is not a cure all but may help reduce the frequency of gout attacks and reduce the progression of the condition.
The gout diet follows a typical healthy diet that focuses on weight reduction, eating more complex carbs, reducing processed foods, cutting back on fats, and eating lean proteins. The most important part is to keep hydrated as that assists in detoxification.
Examples of nutritional tools:
-  Gout. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gout/symptoms-causes/syc-20372897. Published March 1, 2019. Accessed July 24, 2020.
-  Gout. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/gout.html. Published January 28, 2019. Accessed July 24, 2020.
-  Singh JA. Racial and gender disparities among patients with gout. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2013;15(2):307. doi:10.1007/s11926-012-0307-x
-  Gout. (n.d.). Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/gout
The information on this page is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek medical advice from your physician or health provider for your specific needs.