Image of feet from above with right foot red and swollen from Gout. Used in blog for online gout treatment.

Online Gout Treatment

Posted by jsavage on May 15, 2023
Reviewed by Dr. Jonathon Savage, DO, Emergency Physician

What is Gout?

It is painful.  Our body deposits these little crystals inside of one or more joints which causes inflammation and pain.  While it generally falls under the general category of a version of arthritis, it has also may be known by other names such as podagra(gout of the foot), "the disease of kings", or "rich man's disease". This article will go over the basics of gout while also helping you determine if you might be able to get online gout treatment.

Risk of Getting Gout

High levels of uric acid in the body is called hyperuricemia.  These high uric acid levels may be genetic as we know that gout does tend to run in families.There are some other things that make it more likely to occur including:

  • Being male
  • Obesity
  • Poor kidney function
  • Certain medications(such as diuretics, also known as "water pills")
  • Alcohol use(all types of alcohol, not just wine)
  • Food or drinks containing high fructose corn syrup
  • Certain foods such as:
    • Asparagus
    • Mushrooms
    • Red Meat
    • Organ Meat(such as liver)
    • Some seafoods(anchovies, sardines, mussels, trout, tuna)
  • Some cancers and blood disorders
  • Lead poisoning

How Do I Know If I Have Gout?

People that have had gout before, usually know when they are having a flare-up.  But if you have never had it before and have pain, redness, and swelling in one or more of your joints, it is worth checking out. The classic presentation is a painful, swollen, red foot.

The diagnosis is usually made based on an exam.  Labs may be a part of the workup but treatment usually is started before any lab results.

What Part of the Body Does Gout Occur In?

For the first flare up it usually only affects a single joint.  Most commonly where the great(big) toe connects with the central part of the foot.  But it can also affect other joints like the ankle, knee, wrist, and elbow.  When the joint becomes inflamed it can feel warm and often swells.  The skin might also become red, purple, or shiny over that joint.

Is Gout Treatment Online or Do I Have To Be Seen In-Person?

To make the diagnosis, you can be seen in-person or through an online virtual visit or telemedicine visit.  If the problem is in the foot, ankle, or knee it likely will be easier to get on a telemedicine visit than to have to travel somewhere.

Once on a telemedicine visit, the medical provider can ask the right questions and do an exam by video(or possibly have you upload or share a picture of the painful area if video is not an option).  Getting this exam is one of the surest ways to get the right diagnosis and treatment.

What Treatments Are Available for Gout?

There are a few different classes of medication that may be prescribed by the clinician.  General categories include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories(NSAIDS):  Help decrease inflammation.  
  • Corticosteroids:  A steroid that also helps to reduce joint inflammation.
  • Colchicine:  Helps decrease the release of chemicals that lead to inflammation.
  • Uric acid lowering drugs:  For those found to have high uric acid levels in the blood, these medications help reduce those levels and decrease the chance of crystals forming in the joints.  Traditionally, allopurinol is most commonly used.
  • Medications that lower uric acid by increasing the body's ability to get is out in the urine:  These are best reserved for people with normal kidney function.  Probenecid is the medication most often used for this purpose.

What Else Can Be Done For Gout Other Than Medications?

In addition to the medication types above, it may also be helpful to rest and support the joint that is painful.  Ice can help decrease some of the swelling too.

For people with risk factors for gout, some lifestyle changes such as stopping alcohol, losing weight, and other dietary changes may be recommended to help prevent future flare-ups. To read more about a Gout diet you can check out information on the Cleveland Clinic website.

Can Gout Be Serious or Dangerous?

There may also be some more serious conditions that can cause it too.  For example, people with kidney problems may not be able to clear the uric acid out of the body which will lead to higher levels in the bloodstream.  Also, certain medications can contribute to the buildup of these crystals either directly or by affecting kidney function.  Lead poisoning is another unlikely but potential cause too.

While gout is usually easy to diagnose both in-person and through a telemedicine visit.  However, other issues like a bacterial joint infection, other types of arthritis, blood flow issues, or certain cancers can cause similar symptoms.  That is why it is important to be seen.  Not only can the right diagnosis be made, but the right workup or treatment can be started.

What Should You Do Next If You Think You Have Gout?

At Care on Location, our clinical team has years of primary care or urgent care experience.  We are happy to see you to help get you feeling better.  In certain locations, if it is felt by our team that labs or x-rays are needed, we can get them ordered for you.  But rest assured, needing further evaluation should not prevent us from helping you get your inflammation under control and getting you back to your normal activities as soon as possible. Online gout treatment can help get you back on your feet.

Learn more about getting care from us in our informational blog post "Medical Care TODAY From Anywhere With Telemedicine Through Care On Location"

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