Gout: Definition and What it is
Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Gout Definition and Meaning
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that results in pain, redness, and tenderness in joints. It develops when excess uric acid in the body forms crystals in a joint or surrounding tissue causing inflammation and pain. Uric acid is a chemical that is naturally created in the body and gets removed when you urinate. If too much uric acid builds up in the body and isn’t excreted, you can develop gout.
The symptoms of gout often include intense joint pain. While gout can occur in any joint, it commonly strikes the big toe joint. Gout pain tends to come on suddenly and is often most intense in the first 12 to 24 hours after it begins. Other symptoms include lingering discomfort in the affected joint, inflammation and redness, and limited range of motion.
While there is no cure for gout, symptoms can come and go, and there’s a lot you can do to manage the pain and prevent flares.
Gout: A Hinge Health Perspective
While movement and exercise are often first-line treatments for joint pain, it can be understandably challenging to build an exercise routine when you’re in intense pain. When it comes to exercise, it’s best to start slow and gradually increase your level of activity when a pain flare has begun to subside.
Many people worry that exercise will make their gout and joint pain worse, may not be safe for their joints, or do more damage. All of these are myths. In fact, being sedentary is associated with worsening gout. Targeted exercises and stretches, on the other hand, can help keep joints healthy and strengthen weaker muscles that often accompany joint pain.
And beyond the physical benefits (decreased pain and stiffness), exercise therapy for joint pain boasts psychological benefits (improved emotional well-being) and functional benefits (more independence and improved ability to do daily tasks).
Treatment for gout includes anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain flares and other medication to lower uric acid in the body, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes, including dietary adjustments. Limiting alcohol and sugary drinks, reducing intake of certain foods, and adopting a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can all help reduce gout symptoms and prevent painful flares. During flare-ups, applying ice and elevating the affected joint can help alleviate symptoms.
How Physical Therapy Can Help With Gout
Physical therapy can aid in managing gout symptoms. A physical therapist (PT) can recommend exercises and stretches to reduce pain and improve joint function and mobility. They can also recommend footwear that may help reduce stress on affected joints. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.
How Hinge Health Can Help You
If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.
The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.
Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition.
Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.
This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.
Gout. (n.d.). Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/gout
Fields, T. R. (2018, May 18). Gout: Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment. HSS: Hospital for Special Surgery. https://www.hss.edu/conditions_gout-risk-factors-diagnosis-treatment.asp