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Get the Facts on Gout — A Painful Disease That Targets Men

There are more than 100 forms of arthritis. Together, they affect more than 54 million people in the United States. While some forms of the disease are more common than others, each affects people in different ways. For men, one of the more common forms can be an excruciatingly painful type called gout. Affecting more than 9 million Americans, a gout flare can cause intense pain and immobility. And thanks to hormones, men are four times as likely to live with gout than women.

In layman’s terms, gout is caused by elevated levels of uric acid (hyperuricemia). In the average person, uric acid is eliminated through urine and sweat. But in people living with gout, the uric acid levels are too high for the body to eliminate fully. The uric acid builds up and forms crystallized shards that migrate to the lower joints, most commonly the big toe. These crystallized shards are like small pieces of glass that tear tissue and cause intense pain. Often, the searing pain of a gout attack can leave patients bed-ridden and unable to walk for several days.

Getting Diagnosed
Despite its prevalence in men and its telltale symptoms, many people suffering from gout go undiagnosed. Doctors and patients often attribute the pain to a break or sprain. Others tough out the pain at home, choosing not to seek out medical care at all. But left untreated, gout can cause irreversible damage to the joints it affects. For Jim Klososky, he was lucky enough to be diagnosed early, making it less likely he’ll have permanent joint damage.

“I woke up in extreme pain,” says Jim, as he recalls his first gout attack nearly 30 years ago. “I thought I had broken my toe but couldn’t think of any way that had happened. I was in my 20s and a bartender, so I did drink quite a bit. I thought perhaps I just hadn’t remembered. The pain and swelling reminded me of a previous break, so I just assumed it had happened again.”

Jim had not forgotten some incident from the night before. In fact, tests and X-rays showed no signs of a break. When Jim mentioned his diet was high in fatty foods, and he consumed alcohol on a regular basis, his doctor suspected his pain was caused by gout. Diet, alcohol consumption and genetics all play a role in the development of the disease.

“It didn’t take long for my doctor to put the pieces together and realize that I was suffering from a gout flare,” says Jim. “I know many others don’t get a diagnosis on their first attack. Either they put off a visit to their doctor, or they’re misdiagnosed. Thankfully, my physician was experienced with the disease. He prescribed daily medications as well as an emergency prescription that could help get my flare under control. The meds worked great. I felt better in a couple of days and was able to carry on as usual.”

Moving Forward
As Jim matured, so did his outlook on diet and alcohol. To keep his gout flares in check, he eventually limited alcohol and fatty foods, both of which are triggers for a flare. For years, Jim managed his gout without daily medications, relying solely on a healthy diet to counteract his disease. But as Jim reached his 50s, diet alone could no longer prevent the attacks. As he began to experience more frequent flares, he decided to return to his doctor for guidance.

“Not much has changed in the world of gout medication in the 30 years I’ve lived with this disease,” says Jim. “But I’ve changed. I realize now that taking a daily medication is an important part of staying healthy. I can’t just rely on the right foods and the elimination of alcohol to keep my flares at bay anymore. With medication, I’m able to control my gout and prevent serious attacks that land me in bed and out of commission for days.”

Knowing when and how to ask for help is an important part of staying healthy. For Jim, he often thought he could handle the pain on his own. Daily medications seemed unnecessary in his youth, when flares only came every few years. And when they did happen, he assumed that if he just toughed it out for a day or two, he’d be fine. But now, Jim realizes that his attitude cost him countless days with loved ones and could have led to irreversible damage to his joints.

“Men don’t need to be so stubborn and assume that the pain will just pass if they wait it out,” says Jim. “My biggest piece of advice is that if you’re in pain, go see a doctor. There’s no point in suffering through when there are medications that can help. Pain takes you away from the things and people you love. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to take every moment I can to enjoy my life.”

If you suspect you have gout or have been diagnosed, learn more about the disease by watching the Living Well With Gout webinar. In this webinar, led by renowned experts and moderated by Jim Klososky, you’ll hear more about Jim’s personal journey, as well as get answers on how to best prevent and treat the disease.

Share Your Gout Experience
Your voice matters. This Men’s Health Month, tell us how living with gout or any form of arthritis has impacted your life, your mental health and your relationships. Take the INSIGHTS survey to shape programs and services from the Arthritis Foundation that help conquer pain caused by arthritis. – Heidi Bragg

 

 

 

 

 

workplace ergonomics

Creating a Joint-Friendly Workspace

By Rebecca Gillett, MS OTR/L – Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast Co-Host

As things begin to open back up and some of us return to the office for work, you may need to re-evaluate your workspace. Listen to the latest episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis podcast to learn strategies to keep your joints healthy at work.

Happy Summer! It feels good to kick off the summer — knowing that maybe we can enjoy some of the things we missed pre-pandemic for those who are now fully vaccinated and feel ready to do so. I know it might still be uncertain or uncomfortable for some of us to just go back to the way things were before our anxieties reached an all-time high about being high-risk for COVID-19. So, the last thing anyone wants to think about is going back to the office! Wait, WHAT!? I can’t work from home anymore? Or maybe the rules have changed, and work will remain remote or offer flexibility with where you put in your work hours. Continue reading Creating a Joint-Friendly Workspace

Men in Chronic Pain

Chronic arthritis pain hurts. It impacts nearly every aspect of life, from sleep to work to relationships. During the past year, more than one-third of people with arthritis stopped visiting their doctor out of fear of contracting COVID-19. That hiatus from treatment only made chronic pain worse. This June, during Men’s Health Month, we’re focused on helping people with arthritis take back control of their mental and physical health by teaching them when and how to ask for help with pain. Continue reading Men in Chronic Pain

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Turning Aspirations into Goals

By Julie Eller, co-host of the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast 

In the latest episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis podcast, Rebecca and I had a great discussion with Dr. Dawn Eckhoff, a nationally certified telehealth provider and educator by the Center for Telehealth Innovation, Education & Research (C-TIER) at Old Dominion University. Her research focus is on goal setting & telehealth, and she joined us to discuss the art of goal setting in managing the chronic pain of arthritis.   Continue reading Turning Aspirations into Goals

May 2021 Arthritis News Roundup

May has been a busy month for arthritis-related news and COVID updates that affect people with arthritis. Here’s a wrap-up of the headlines from this past month.

Taking Action For Better Access

Biologic drugs and therapies can slow the progression of arthritis and allow patients to improve quality of life but, too often, those therapies are rendered useless when insurance plans strip physicians of the ability to prescribe the most appropriate treatment without first forcing patients to try the therapies preferred by the insurance companies – a process known as “step therapy.”

In a new op-ed for The Hill, American College of Rheumatology President Dr. David Karp and Arthritis Foundation President & CEO Ann Palmer are urging Congress to address this issue by passing the Safe Step Act.

You can take action now by contacting your member of congress and asking them to support the Safe Step Act.

 Millions of Immunocompromised Americans May Not Be Fully Protected by Coronavirus Vaccines

Early research shows that 15-80% of people with certain medical conditions are generating few antibodies after receiving coronavirus vaccines. Read more.

Learn what precautions people with certain forms or arthritis or on certain medications should take once vaccinated. View the slideshow.

NIH to Study How COVID-19 Vaccines Work in People With Suppressed Immune Systems

After research suggested they develop fewer antibodies from coronavirus vaccines, the National Institutes of Health has launched a study to understand how people with immune disorders respond to COVID-19 vaccines. Find out more about the study.

ACR Updates COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance for Managing Patients With Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases

Recently, guidance was updated to include new recommendations regarding mycophenolate, methotrexate, acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug timing considerations for patients with rheumatic diseases. Learn more.

FDA, CDC Lift Suspension of Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration lifted a 10-day pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but will issue a fact sheet to medical providers warning them of the potential for extremely rare but serious blood clots. Read more.

Majority of Parents Will Wait on Kids’ COVID Vaccine

Three-quarters of parents don’t plan to vaccinate their kids against COVID-19 when the FDA gives the go-ahead for younger children, according to a new survey of 1,258 parents. Many said they would wait a few months, but a full third said they don’t plan to vaccinate their kids at all. Find out more.

Got vaccine questions? Infectious disease and vaccine expert, Robert L. Murphy, MD, breaks down the severe risks of COVID-19 vaccines for people with arthritis and explains how to evaluate the true risk for yourself. Watch the Q&A.

Patients With Rheumatic Diseases Are More Likely to Avoid Health Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

Patients with certain forms of arthritis were more likely to avoid office visits and laboratory testing and discontinue DMARDs without physician indication during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in The Journal of Rheumatology. Learn more.

Biologic Treatment Spacing Feasible for Some Rheumatic Disease Patients

Patients with rheumatic diseases who have stable disease remission or low disease activity might be able to reduce their biologic (b)DMARD treatment without disease flare by spacing their doses, BIOPURE findings show. Find out more.

Time Trends in Opioid Use Disorder Hospitalizations

A new study evaluates opioid use disorder–related hospitalizations and associated health care utilization outcomes in people with five common musculoskeletal diseases. Read the study’s findings.

Time to Screen for Older Patients’ Cannabis Use?

Cannabis use more than doubled over the past decade among Americans 50 and over, with nearly one in 10 now reporting usage over the past year, an analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found. Read more. Read more.

Medical cannabis for arthritis pain relief is growing in popularity. Learn how to speak with your doctor about the benefits of medical marijuana. Get expert tips for speaking with your health care provider.

Telemedicine Is a Tool — Not a Replacement for a Doctor’s Touch

The pandemic has demonstrated that virtual medicine is great for many simple visits. But many of the new types of telemedicine being promoted by start-ups more clearly benefit providers’ and investors’ pockets, rather than yielding more convenient, high-quality and cost-effective medicine for patients. Find out more.

Clinicians ‘Should Be Cognizant of’ Racial, Cultural Disparities During RA Management

Clinicians should be aware of racial and cultural differences in the perception of health care and tailor their approach accordingly, and reduce potential health care disparities, noted a speaker at the 2021 Interdisciplinary Autoimmune Summit. Learn more.

Boosting the Presence of Darker Skin in Rheumatology Education

Studies are flagging racial and ethnic disparities in rheumatology training materials, pointing to a need to boost representation of darker skin tones and better educate physicians in evaluating this cohort. Not enough is known about these disparities in rheumatology education, despite the fact that minorities make up 40% of the population in the United States. Read more.

Arthritis uniquely affects marginalized segments of society. Their experiences are detailed in How It Hurts — the latest findings from the nearly 40,000 responses to the INSIGHTS survey. Read How It Hurts.

3D Biomaterial Used as ‘Sponge’ for Stem Cell Therapy to Reverse Arthritis

A new study of a 3D biomaterial scaffold design is showing promise, relieving pain and reversing arthritis in mice knee joints. The design slowly releases stem cells to ensure that implanted stem cells stick around. Read more about this study.

Improved Understanding of Damaging Immune Response in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Researchers within the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University have made a breakthrough in understanding the role played by high-risk immune genes associated with the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Study results suggest that there may be an immune signature of RA development, providing a potential avenue for diagnostic development or a window of opportunity for therapeutic development. Learn more.

Shared Decision Making, Clinical Judgment Take Priority Where OA Guidelines Diverge

Shared decision making and clinical judgment are key to effectively managing osteoarthritis (OA) patients, especially when sets of OA guidelines disagree on the best course of action, noted a speaker at the American College of Rheumatology State-of-the-Art Clinical Symposium. Read more.

Stable, Supportive Shoes Reduce Walking Pain in Severe Knee OA

Wearing stable, supportive footwear reduces knee pain to a significantly greater extent than what’s felt with flat, flexible shoes in patients with severe knee osteoarthritis, according to results of a randomized, controlled trial presented at the OARSI 2021 World Congress. Learn more.

Products that are easy to use make life less painful for everyone. Find arthritis-friendly products that have earned the Arthritis Foundation Ease of Use seal and take the pain out of everyday chores. Search Ease of Use products.

 

 

My Rheumatoid Arthritis Journey to Wellness and Empowerment

By Amye Leong, MBA, President & CEO, Healthy Motivation

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month has taught me that I am not alone!

I am Asian, a fourth generation Chinese American, and I have rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis and related diseases affect people of all ages and ethnicities, but we of Asian backgrounds have historically tended to keep our pain and disability to ourselves. After being diagnosed at age 18 and crippled in a wheelchair by age 24, my American, independent side said, “Enough! Time to get serious about finding the best treatments for me.” Continue reading My Rheumatoid Arthritis Journey to Wellness and Empowerment

Sharing Arthritis Patient COVID-19 Experiences

By Rebecca Gillett, MS OTR/L – Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast Co-Host 

It has been a really hard year. We have all dealt with increased stress and anxiety over the fear of the unknown when it comes to the pandemic and COVID-19. We have spent so much time washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks to keep from contracting and spreading COVID-19, learning a little more as we moved along the way. For those of us living with arthritis, the fear has been palpable and has surrounded every aspect of our daily lives.  Continue reading Sharing Arthritis Patient COVID-19 Experiences

The Core of Our Arthritis Community

More than 250 volunteers provide support and connections as forum moderators and support group facilitators.

Friends and family can lend a sympathetic ear and shoulder to lean on when you’re having a hard time. But there’s nothing like having someone to turn to who has faced the same kinds of challenges and really gets what you’re going through. That’s especially true when you’re dealing with chronic pain and the hardships that come with living with arthritis. Continue reading The Core of Our Arthritis Community