Gout Pain Treatments

'Defying The Pain Of Gout Requires A Multi-Dimensional Approach'

In This Article (Click To Jump Down To) –

  • Taking Medications
  • Keeping Cool
  • Drinking Lemon Water
  • Raise Affected Limbs
  • Get The Fans Out
  • Resting
  • Bathe In Epsom Salts
  • Change Your Bedding Style
  • CBD Oil
  • Get A Cane
  • Don’t Bash It
  • Self-Hypnosis
  • Frequently Asked Questions

By Definition –

Gout Pain Treatments are those treatments that you can use to reduce the pain from the initial onset of pain and throughout your attack. These include a whole range of drugs and various actions that you can also take to reduce the impact of an attack on your life.

When gout strikes, you have maybe just a few hours before the pain gets worse. During this time, successful application of the gout pain treatments below can help to substantially lessen that pain.

In this article, we look at gout pain and what your options are for reducing it. 

Gout pain treatments banner

You know the familiar pain as your toe brushes against clothes and you feel the first flush of gout pain.

Many people resign themselves to anything from 48hrs to 10 days or more of pain. We have already covered likely triggers to a gout attack in an earlier article, but now it’s too late to avoid the triggers – for this attack anyway.

As soon as you feel Gout coming on, it is wise to consider the following gout pain treatments –

1) Take Any Medications Straight Away.

Ibuprofen can be purchased over the counter if you can’t wait to see a doctor and get a prescription. This is by no means the most effective drug for gout pain however, so please do read the specific section below on drugs for gout pain.

Ibuprofen however is a relatively safe, easy to purchase option, if you haven’t got anything more appropriate on hand. If this is your first gout attack, ibuprofen will suffice until you see a doctor to get stronger pain relief.

Do not take Ibuprofen however, if you have a history of stroke/ heart attack or any cardiovascular problems as it may thin your blood unintentionally increasing your chances of a stroke (if you are a high risk patient).

In such circumstances, stick to the other gout treatment options below until you can see your doctor for a prescribed medication.

Colchicine.

This is a drug specifically designed to reduce gout pain. It is a prescription, oral anti-inflammatory medication for crystal-related arthritis. However, it comes with a frequent occurrence of side effects that include diarrhoea, sickness and nausea to name but a few.

Colchicine has a few unusual indications but is not like you stand anti-inflammatory and has no use in daily treatment of issues such as headaches.

However, if you are in the early stages of a gout attack, it is quite likely that Colchicine will be the first treatment your doctor will offer to get the pain under control.

NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs).

This class of drug is specifically designed to tackle the inflammation caused by gout.
It is the most common drug used for all types of arthritis including gouty arthritis (gout) NSAIDs are not frequently used for long-term prevention of gout as they can lead to serious stomach pain and ulcers.

Typical examples for high dose relief –

  • Indomethcain (Indocin)
  • Naproxen (Naprosyn)
  • Sulindac ( Clinoril)
  • Naproxen Sodium (Aleve)

If your attack is less severe, you may be offered one of –

  • Ibuprofen
  • Diclofenec Sodium
  • Meloxicam
  • Piroxicam

Typically, your doctor will titrate the doses so you have a higher dose during or immediately following an attack of gout, and then a step-down dose daily dose for prevention of future attacks. Until you are stepped off altogether and urged to invest time in other much safer, preventative measures.

Image of a man taking his gout pain treatments

Corticosteroids.

Typical examples include

  • Prednisone
  • Triamcinolone
  • Methylprednisolone

Administered in either tablet or injection form, they are designed to control both gout inflammation and the ensuing pain.

Corticotropin or Adrenocorticotrophic Hormone.

This is not a common first-line therapy for gout, but it’s a very viable option for people who cant take NSAIDs/ Corticosteroids.

Indeed, when it is used it tends to be for the reduction of pain and inflammation associated with the early stages of an attack.

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2) Keep Any Affected Joints Cool.

No list of gout pain treatments would be complete without one of the fastest options for pain relief – the age-old ‘cold therapy’.

This can be achieved by wrapping them with a cold compress or an ice pack for up to 30mins at a time. 

Another option is a towel or support bandage that has previously been placed a plastic bag in the freezer for approx 30 minutes beforehand.

The idea is to make it very cold (not completely frozen hard), while putting it in a bag until you take it out of the freezer, keeps it from sticking solid to ice while it is getting chilled.

The best way of applying cold therapy will depend on which parts of your body are affected, and we do cover this in more detail in later guides.

The effect of the cold will slow your circulation down, by constricting your blood flow.

This reduced blood flow then in turn minimises the potential swelling and helps to reduce the intense pressure around a badly-affected joint.

‘Cryotherapy’ as it is sometimes referred to also has been known to have a slight numbing effect.

HOWEVER, just a little word of caution – whatever you do, don’t pressure wrap your joint.

Applying a cold compress or even a bag of frozen peas (you may want to change this a few times as the frozen veg will start to defrost in under 10mins!) needs to be just gently laid upon your joints while you are sat down.

I have seen people try to fix frozen veg to their knee or wrist and tightly wrap it with cling film, in the hope that it will get even colder.

Unfortunately, this just puts pressure back on your affected joints and is likely overall to make your gout pain even worse.

An elderly man with an ice compress on his elbow

3) Drink Lots Of Lemon Water.

Drinking lots of water in general will help your kidneys to flush through the uric acid that forms in to urate crystals that ultimately create gout.

It is widely accepted that drinking lots of water is a good thing to do when you feel the first pangs of a gout attack coming on. However, a study in the British Medical Journal in 2015 was the first of it’s kind to test the effect of drinking lemon juice on your uric acid levels.

It found a positive connection that would strongly suggest gout could be better controlled by drinking lemon juice regularly.

What it couldn’t assess was how quickly the effect of the lemon juice actually reduced uric acid. Given the positive impact of water on the kidneys, adding a dash of lemon juice could only help.

Some people swear by it. Clinically, it was not clear whether it would reduce current attacks or just prevent future ones.

However, adding lemon juice to normal water, creating flavoured ‘lemon water’ would certainly seem to have no detrimental effects and may even start reducing your uric acid levels immediately, which would make it an extremely effective gout pain treatment.

4) Raise The Affected Limbs Whenever Possible.

Raising your affected limb(s) is perhaps one of the most effective gout pain treatments there is. Again, it is designed to counter the effect of the swelling, since this swelling and inflammation is the cause of much of the gout pain you will suffer with.

That’s easy to say, but how in practice do you achieve it? Well, a good reclining sofa at home can help, or a cushioned foot stool (a pouffe). A footstool may also help with big toe pain in an office setting if it can be tucked under your desk.

Ideally however you want to keep your painful areas at least above waist height. This is then easiest achieved by lying in bed with several cushions under your feet (if it is toe/ foot ankle related).

If the gout is in your fingers or other areas then please check our individual ‘gout in the…’ sections or see if you can use cushions to keep those parts raised as much as possible too.

It will really help as it another of the most effective gout pain treatments.

5) Time To Get The Fans Out.

We have already touched on how important it is, when you feel a gout attack coming on, to keep the affected areas cool.

One of the best ways of doing this is to get several fans. If you have to work through a gout attack, a fan could be placed on your desk (or under it depending on which limbs are affected) and can blast cooling air at your joint.

Make sure your feet are fresh though – you don’t want to take your shoes and socks off under the desk and put a fan on the floor, only to stink out the rest of your office!

Fans are also great at home, as you can move them wherever you go. Especially at night, when gout affected toes have a tendency of burning like fire. A well-positioned fan (on a chair alongside the bed) can do wonders for keeping affected toes cool and getting you a good nights’ rest.

6) Getting A Good Rest.

Not just at night though – if you are suffering with gout, you are likely to feel a bit tired anyway. But it is essential to keep rested throughout the attack.

Tired bodies feel pain much more acutely and are more prone to inflammation (which in turn will cause further pain).

7) Bathe In Epsom Salts

According to a study carried out by a Dr R.H.Waring at The University Of BioSciences in Birmingham, England, having a bath in Epsom salts will increase the levels of magnesium and sulfate in your body.

Epsom salt is of course not the same as normal table salt and must only be used in low doses (half a cup if you are using a foot bath or bucket to soak your feet or 2 cups if you have other painful areas and want to soak them in the bath (advice provided by howtocure.com).

The magnesium and sulfar travels in to the bloodstream via the skin and is supposed to make dramatic improvements to inflammation and bruising, two of the leading problems with gout.

Espom salts make no claim to prevent future attacks, but can allegedly help with reducing pain from current attacks. I say allegedly, because the only trial data available is not very robust (might be incorrect), although the outcomes were positive.

Epsom salts should also not be used if you are pregnant or diabetic then you mustn’t use Epsom salts and if you suffer with high blood pressure or are at risk of heart disease, then you must consult a doctor first.

Finally, the magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) will make your skin extremely dry – so make sure have some sort of intense moisturiser ready for afterwards.

An image of a bowl of epsom salts ready for a bath

8) Change Your Bedding Style.

If you suffer with gout in your feet, consider folding your duvet/ bed sheets up and clipping them with clothes pegs so that it stay at what would be about your shin height when lying down (your partner could use an extra single duvet on their side if they find it cold).

This is designed specifically to help keep your feet cool and stop you feeling the pain of brushing your swollen feet against a heavy duvet/ sheets.

9) CBD Oil.

CBD oil (or oil from a cannabis plant without the addictive ‘hallucinogenic’ substance known as THC) is gradually making it’s way into modern day pain relief.

One thing it is known for is it’s properties as a natural painkiller and anti-inflammatory agent.

In 2016, a trial in Therapeutics And Clinical Risk Management specifically tested on joint pain and inflammation, where it was found to be effective with both.

Unfortunately, no studies have as yet been conducted to test it’s effect on gout, but it is not unreasonable to assume that it would have a positive impact on the inflammation around your joints and therefore reduce your pain levels.

Whether you are prepared to try it really depends on how well other gout pain treatments are working for you. However, it is certainly an option potentially worth considering

10) Get A Cane.

Keeping weight off painful feet and toes during a gout attack is absolutely essential and a cane can be life saver, allowing you to do this safely.

Obviously, crutches or even zimmer frames are even better options – particularly crutches are these allow almost all your weight to be carried by your upper body.

However, supportive equipment can also be useful for your knees or hands and the specific options are discussed in more detail under our ‘gout by area’ sections.

11) Don’t Bash It!

That sounds like really dull, obvious advice, but it is amazing how many ‘clever’ people walk out of a doctors surgery and bash their foot on a chair leg only to recoil in agony.

Worse still, once they’ved done this, they have probably just doubled the severity of their upcoming gout attack – there goes the gout pain treatments!

12) Self-Hypnosis

Spinning watches to symbolize self-hypnosis

I’ve written an article into the surprising amount of clinical evidence there is behind the effectiveness of this treatment.

You only have to understand how powerful the mind is at changing your pain levels to realise there is genuinely something in it.

If you are a doubter, just look at the so-called ‘placebo-effect’ where 50% of trialists are given a drug and 50% are given a sugar pill that looks like the drug but has nothing in. Time and time again, results will report a 25-30% improvement in patients who took the sugar pill vs maybe a 30%-35% improvement in those with the active drug.

In other words, 25-30% of the group with no drug thought themselves into feeling better, while the actual chemical drug probably only improved outcomes by 5%.

In the case of self-hypnosis, you get in to a meditative state and talk your mind in to thinking differently about your pain. A few sessions following basic rules and the same pain stimuli will start registering less pain on your brain.

There are other options open too such as genuine mediation, the Feldenkrais method or cognitive behavioural therapy that can all also help with pain relief.

The Final Word –

Gout pain treatments are fairly strong in number, crossing a wide range of ‘styles’ from your standard drugs to foods to cold treatments right across to bathing in Epsom salts or engaging in self-hypnosis.

Which is most effective depends on you to some extent, although we have tried to pull together a top 6 to give some idea as to what perhaps should be tried first.

Either way however, gout pain treatments are very much a last resort – the key is always to avoid the triggers and take preventative steps to ensure that you don’t feel that burning sensation any time soon.

While you can never completely ‘cure’ gout, It is none the less not impossible to put, in some cases, years between gout attacks and with clever prevention, this has to be the ultimate aim.

A Selection Of Other Articles On Gout...

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Further Gout-Related Reports...

References –

1. E.K. Biernatkaluza, N. Schlesinger  (2015). SAT0318 Lemon Juice Reduces Serum Uric Acid Level Via Alkalization of Urine in Gouty and Hyperuremic Patients – A Pilot Study . Annals Of The Rheumatic Diseases.
2. Dr RH Waring. Report on Absorption of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) across the skin. School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham.
3. Ethan B Russo. (Feb 2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics And Clinical Risk Management.

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