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Wrong on so many counts! Gout is increasingly common and affects 2.5% of the population. That’s 1 in 40 people! Instead of thinking of it as a troublesome nuisance which flares up now and again, we need to think of it as a long term form of arthritis, causing inflammation and damage to joints and leading to painful joints and kidney damage.

Many people put up with mild attacks, using over the counter tablets like ibuprofen to battle on through. Medical research shows that this is the wrong way forward. Every attack should be treated as early as possible to help prevent long term bad outcomes and in the UK over half of patients with gout are untreated or not fully treated.

So if this is you or someone you care about then take note ! gout is caused by crystals of uric acid forming and lodging in body parts, often joints and skin but also in kidneys. About 3/4 of all cases do show up as big toe pain but it can appear as pain in the bootlace area of the foot, heel, ankle, knee, wrist or elbow or as skin lumps over some joints. All patients with gout should be offered medication to lower the level of uric acid in their blood long term to prevent flare ups.

This is difficult for some people to accept : including many doctors. Doctors used to be taught that preventative treatment was really only to be offered to patients who had more than a couple of flare ups a year. And many patients are not keen to be told they need to take a tablet every day for the foreseeable future to prevent something which may have only happened once.

But we know now that crystals of uric acid are being deposited in body tissues all the time in people with high levels of uric acid in their blood : attacks of gout may be occasional but damage is ongoing and mounts up.

The evidence shows that the main barrier to effective management of gout is poor patient understanding and poor patient information. The information in this blog is to help you understand more clearly that gout is now better understood by doctors and needs to taken much more seriously .If you have questions about this or believe you need a different approach to your treatment please discuss this with a doctor.