Gout specialist Perth
What is it?
Gout is a form of arthritis where intense inflammation results from the accumulation of uric acid crystals in joint tissues. Uric acid is a normal product of the breakdown of cells. In some patients, too much uric acid is produced and the body cannot effectively clear it. That is why it accumulates in joint tissues over the years. In other people, the kidneys do not clear enough uric acid, allowing it to build up in the body.
When sufficient uric acid builds up in joint tissues crystals may form which may trigger sudden and acute inflammation in joint tissues.
Attacks may result from factors that suddenly change the level of uric acid in the body such as:
- A meal high in purines eg shellfish, red meat, offal
- Excessive alcohol
- Fluid tablets
Symptoms | Rheumatologist Perth
What are the most common symptoms?
It usually requires years for sufficient uric acid to build up in joint tissues for gout to occur.
The initial attacks typically come on within several hours.
The involved joint becomes red, swollen, painful, and exquisitely tender. If this is left untreated, further attacks occur. These become more frequent and involve many more joints.
Chronic gout may then follow with persistent pain, swelling, and inflammation in many joints. Within the joints, the inflammation and uric acid buildup cause destruction of the joint tissues and bone.
In chronic gout, uric acid may accumulate to form a mass of uric acid that is called a tophus. These may occur in the joints, eat into bones and break through the skin.
Diagnosis | Rheumatologist Perth
How do you diagnose this type of arthritis?
Gout can be diagnosed by:
- Examination of joint fluid: to identify uric acid crystals within the fluid and the white blood cells that are causing the inflammation.
- Ultrasound of joint tissues: to demonstrate the accumulation of uric acid and tophi.
- X-rays: to show typical damage.
It cannot be diagnosed by a blood test checking the uric acid level.
Treatments | Rheumatologist Perth
What treatments are available?
Making an accurate diagnosis is the first step in the treatment.
Treatments steps usually involve:
- Review of lifestyle factors including, diet, alcohol consumption, weight loss, exercise
- To treat the inflammation in joints causing pain.
- To reduce the uric acid level in the body. This eventually leads to an end of gout attacks.
Lifelong treatment is usually required to ensure that gout does not recur.
Why Murdoch Rheumatology?
At Murdoch Rheumatology, you can expect an experienced assessment to diagnose gout and establish a long-term treatment plan.
An ultrasound examination may be undertaken in your appointment to aid in immediate diagnosis and also to monitor treatment.