What is polyarticular gout?

Polyarticular gout is a form of gout in which multiple joints are affected. Gout is an arthritic condition in which painful crystals form around the joints in response to elevated levels of uric acid in the blood and urine. Polyarticular gout is most often seen in older people, and the most commonly affected joints include the ankles, feet, elbows, wrists, and hands.

Polyarticular gout pain is usually experienced on only one side of the body. This pain is most often noted in the feet and legs. Unlike those who have monoarticular gout, or gout in a single joint, people with polyarticular gout are more likely to enjoy longer periods of time between painful attacks, and the onset of pain is generally more gradual. This type of gout can also be accompanied by loss of appetite, fever and malaise.

Symptoms of gout include sudden and severe joint pain, swelling, redness, and night-onset or morning-onset pain. Treatment for polyarticular gout may include taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and a drug known as colchicine. Although nonprescription pain relievers can help mild gout attacks, prescription pain relievers may be needed to relieve severe pain and inflammation.

People who have polyarticular gout may be at increased risk of high blood pressure. In fact, certain medications used to treat high blood pressure can increase the risk of gout. Resting affected joints and applying ice can help reduce pain and swelling, as can immobilization of painful joints.

However, ice should never be applied directly to the skin without an intermediate barrier. Ice should be wrapped in cloth or placed in an ice pack. The application of heat can also help soothe the pain, however, it will do little to reduce the inflammation.

Certain foods that are high in purines can contribute to gout. These include sardines, herring, anchovies, and spinach. Additionally, cauliflower, dried beans, and brewer's yeast also contain purines. Avoiding alcoholic beverages and limiting fatty foods can help prevent a gout attack, as can limiting meat consumption.

Gout can mimic other medical conditions, so when joint pain occurs, especially in the big toe, your health care provider may order diagnostic tests. Medical tests to rule out polyarticular gout include blood and urine tests to determine uric acid levels, a physical exam, a detailed oral history of the patient, and diagnostic x-rays.

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