When gout sufferers are experiencing acute attacks, doctors typically prescribe one of three types of medicinal treatments for gout or a combination thereof. These include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Taken orally, NSAIDs reduce the inflammation that is caused by the uric acid crystals in the joints. The most commonly prescribed NSAIDs are indomethacin and naproxen. However, other NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen can also provide relief from the inflammation and associated pain.
Regretfully, NSAIDs have no effect on the amount of uric acid in the body. In addition, many of these medications can have significant side effects. Common side effects include bleeding, stomach pain and ulcers. Further, most NSAIDs have a “top limit” effect. In other words, NSAIDs can only manage a certain amount of pain—beyond that top level, no matter of additional dosage will have any positive effect on the pain.
Taken orally or injected into the affected area by your doctor, corticosteroids are antiinflammatory hormones. In most regions, prednisone is most often the corticosteroid of choice. Corticosteroids generally dramatically relieve much of the pain within hours and can eliminate all symptoms of the attack within a week.
As with NSAIDs, corticosteroids do have their drawbacks. Among the most common side effects of corticosteroids is a decreased ability of the body to battle infections and heal open wounds. In addition, corticosteroids can also lead to the thinning of bones. For this reason, injected corticosteroids are not recommended as an ongoing pain management technique for gout sufferers.
When neither NSAIDs or corticosteroids are able to alleviate the symptoms of an acute gout attack, colchicines can be used. A powerful drug in and of itself, colchicines tend to work best when taken within 12 hours of the initial attack. Serious side effects include abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. For overall management of gout symptoms and pain, some patients will take small daily doses of NSAIDs and/or oral colchicine. In addition, medicines such as allopurinol and probenecid have been proven effective in treating hyperuricemia, reducing the number and frequency of sudden attacks and greatly reducing the development of tophi around the affected joints.
As you can quickly see, traditional medicinal approaches carry with them numerous negative side effects. Only you and your health care provider can determine what course of treatment is best for your particular symptoms. But, be sure to make yourself aware of all possible side effects of any medicine your doctor recommends. Knowledge is the key to not only treating your disease, but preventing any additional damage to your body.