Metabolic arthritis is another name for gout or gouty arthritis. Metabolic arthritis is a very painful type of arthritis that affects the joints, especially the big toe.
What causes metabolic arthritis?
Metabolic arthritis is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood. This acid crystallizes and the crystals deposit in the joints. Eventually, this causes sudden attacks of excruciating pain, redness, and swelling.
What causes increased levels of uric acid?
Uric acid is produced by the breakdown of a chemical called purine, which is found in many types of food and in our own cells. Usually the kidneys are able to remove most of the uric acid, but sometimes they cannot, and the uric acid builds up in the blood.
What are the main sources of purine?
The following foods have very high purine levels and should be avoided:
- Organ meats
- Dried legumes (like peas, lentils, and beans)
- Herring, sardines, mackerel
- Yeast and yeast extracts
- Red meat
What are the warning signs of metabolic arthritis?
There are no early warning signs. Usually the first attack occurs at night and affects the big toe, but other joints may be affected. Generally metabolic arthritis is characterized by
- Intense pain
- Heat and swelling around the joint
- A feeling of the skin stretching or tearing
- Pressure around the affected area
The pain may be so unbearable that not even the weight of a blanket or sheet can be tolerated on the affected area.
Who is affected by metabolic arthritis?
- Metabolic arthritis can affect anyone, but it is most common in men over the age of 40.
- It is becoming more common in postmenopausal women.
- It is very rare for children to develop metabolic arthritis.
- 20% of sufferers have a family history of metabolic arthritis, so it is likely that there is a genetic component at work.
- Historically, metabolic arthritis was known as a rich man's disease, because the purine-rich foods that contribute to metabolic arthritis were only available to the wealthy. Now, these foods are available to most people in developed countries, and metabolic arthritis is becoming more common.
What should I do if I have metabolic arthritis?
- The first step in treating this condition is to alter your diet. Avoid purine rich foods and alcohol as much as possible.
- You should maintain a healthy weight. Be careful, extreme dieting can cause an increase in uric acid in the blood. Talk to your health practitioner to design a safe weight-loss program.
- Drink at least eight 8 oz glasses of water per day. This will prevent you from becoming dehydrated, which can cause a concentration of uric acid levels.
- There are also prescription medications available to treat metabolic arthritis, but these nay have side effects. Talk to your health practitioner about prescriptions if the other methods do not work for you.