Once the uric acid level increases beyond the normal range in the bloodstream, they can travel through the tissues and form crystal deposits in the joint spaces. The deposit of crystals can lead to joint inflammation, swelling, redness and limited range of motion. The inflammation often occurs in the joint spaces of the large toe. Other parts of the body where they accumulate include the wrists, ankles, knees and fingers. Take note that the inflammation can quickly progress over a span of 8-12 hours. The buildup of uric acid in the body is known as gout and once the inflammation and pain manifest, it is called as a gouty arthritis attack.
Foods that are packed with protein such as fish, red meat, chicken, beans, organ meat, some vegetables and alcoholic beverages contain purines. It is important to note that the body breaks down the purines into uric acid. The uric acid travels through the bloodstream up to the kidneys where it is eliminated via urination. If the kidney could not eliminate uric acid, it is a condition known as hyperuricemia, resulting to an elevated level of uric acid accumulating in the bloodstream. Individuals can have hyperuricemia for years without any symptoms. Once the symptoms manifest, they progress at a quick rate and cause a lot of discomfort to the individual.
As the inflammation of the joint progresses, the affected area becomes very painful. In most cases, individuals usually find the pain too much to bear during a gouty arthritis attack. In case the lower extremities are affected, the individual could not even walk or stand. Even a slight touch to the affected area can cause excruciating pain. Take note that the pain can resolve within a few hours or a few weeks. Oftentimes, the symptoms start at night or during the early hours in the morning. An attack typically peaks within 24 to 48 hours and then the symptoms will start to subside. With the help of first aid measures, you can provide to the symptoms but medications can greatly help.
Aside from the joint inflammation and pain, the flu-like symptoms can occur during a gouty arthritis attack. This includes chills, low-grade fever and generalized body aches. Oftentimes, there is an increase in the white blood cell count. This makes a diagnosis difficulty since doctors might suspect an infection.
Diagnosing and treatment
The doctor will initially check the uric acid level through a blood test. The normal level of uric acid ranges from 2.4-7.0 milligrams per deciliter. The hyperuricemia can be treated with medications and modifications to the diet. Take note that the body produces a certain amount of uric acid naturally, but most of the uric acid is acquired from food. It is essential for individuals with hyperuricemia to avoid foods that are rich in purine. Even though hyperuricemia is still present, modifications to the diet can eliminate the painful gouty arthritis attacks.