Gout is the oldest known form of arthritis, caused by high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream due to high protein diets and foods that are high in purines. Even though the condition can be managed, it is very uncomfortable and painful during the period of time that the joints are inflamed.
Gout is recognized when there is an imbalance between the production of uric acid and the ability to expel the substance from the body or bloodstream. Kidney activity is decreased, due to improper kidney excretion, which can lead to kidney stones and possible kidney failure.
Crystal deposits then form between the joints which increases inflammation and pain.
History of Gout
Although fifth century written confirmations were provided by Hippocrate, who was known historically as "the father of medicine," gout was first exposed by the Egyptians back in 2640 B.C. Egyptian mummies revealed skeletal evidence dating back more than 4000 years ago.
Hippocrates was also responsible for gout being referred to as the "unwalkable disease." Gout was later nicknamed Podagra, a Greek phrase meaning "foot pain," due to the vicinity of the big toe being the inflamed 60 to 70 percent more than any other region of the body.
Throughout the centuries gout, has been considered to be a symptom of excessive alcohol consumption and a rich diet. The "disease of the kings" was another nickname this condition became notorious for in this time period, mainly because the people who could afford such a lifestyle were those of royalty. Throughout the first century, there were many famous myths dealing with gout and its symptoms.
It was said that a person diagnosed with gout lived somewhat of a "hard life." Some believed it had been a form of punishment for their excessive diet and flamboyant lifestyle.
Discoveries in 190 AD lead Galen of Pergamon to believe that gout was a consequence of a fluid imbalance (Uric Acid). With further research his theory was proven to be true by other scientists. Uric acid crystals were first microscopically observed in 1684 by Antonj van Leeuwenhoek.
The first form of a treatment for gout was colchicines in the sixth century AD by the Byzantine Christain physician Alexander of Tralles. At the end of the 19th century Uricosuric agents were introduced, along with restricted diets. Next, in the modern era, nonsteroidal anti-inflamatories became the drug of choice for managing acute gout.
The most significant historical advance with treating hyperuricemia (gout) was with xanthine oxidase inhibitors. Xanthine oxidase inhibitors have been proven to reverse growth of tophaceous deposits and are effective in reducing the plasma and urinary urate levels.
Over the twentieth century there have been many clinical technological advances. In 1988, Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for their contributions in the medical field for their findings in regards to the medical advances concerning the constant evolutionary knowledge of the condition. Now, in 2006, researchers are still seeking a remedy although there are many anti-uriate pharmaceutical presently in use for this long standing historical ailment.