Gout itself can be a painful and disruptive condition. Some people experience only a single episode of gout, and while the gout may become painful, once it goes away they’re left in generally the same health and condition as they were before the gout occurred.
But in some cases, that gout can become chronic, and when that gout becomes chronic it may start to create crystals that group and become what’s known as “tophi.” Once it does, you may have developed what’s known as tophaceous gout.
What Are Tophi?
Gout is a buildup of uric acid that then breaks up and causes pain in joints and cartilage. But in some people, the uric acid doesn’t break. Instead, it turns into a hard crystal that can get larger over time. These crystals may lodge in joints, cartilage, and bone, and while they may be painless they can eventually cause significant damage to the joints and bone. This is what’s known as tophaceous gout – gout that has become so chronic that it has created tophi.
Tophi can grow so large that they may be visible, and in some cases can break through the skin. They can affect anyone with chronic gout, but they are most likely to affect those that did not seek treatment for their initial gout. See this article for treating your intial gout. On average, tophi occur roughly ten years after gout has been diagnosed.
How to Self-Diagnose Tophaceous Gout
Generally the best ways to diagnose a tophi is to talk to your doctor. Tophi can often be confused with more dangerous diseases, such as certain types of cancers. Only a doctor can tell you with any certainty that you are suffering from tophaceous gout.
However, you can at least recognize the onset of tophaceous gout if:
- You have a history of chronic gout.
- The lump appears to be affecting/near joints or bones.
- The bump seemed to grow fairly quickly.
- If you stretch the skin over the bump, it appears whitish or chalky.
Symptoms are the same as traditional gout, except that the tophi may also erode the bone and cause visual deformity. Once tophaceous gout occurs, it becomes very difficult to treat with traditional dietary changes.
Prevention and Treatment of Tophaceous Gout
It starts with prevention. If you experience gout symptoms, it’s important that you start immediately treating your gout using some of the dietary changes and natural supplements that appear to have an effect on gout formation. Make sure that you are drinking ample water and taking advantage of herbal remedies that can reduce uric acid buildup.
Once you already have tophaceous gout, it becomes a bit more complicated, but treatment is generally the same. If you can lower your uric acid levels, you should be able to help your body break down the tophi over time. However, since tophi developed because of extremely high uric acid levels it may be a bit more difficult – and possibly more painful – to break them down with any sort of speed. That’s why prevention should be your greatest consideration if you have chronic gout, and you should talk to your doctor about your tophi options if they have already formed.
Controlling Tophaceous Gout
Gout that’s been left untreated can be difficult to control, but tophaceous gout is treatable. Make sure that you’re following all of the dietary and natural tips for controlling gout, talk to your doctor, and your ability to stop tophaceous gout will improve.