Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Is There A Remedy For Pain Associated With Uric Acid Buildup?

Thursday, 08 July 2010 02:23 PM

Question: Is there a cure or remedy for pain in one’s fingers from a buildup of uric acid? I use a hand-brace at night which helps, but does not solve the problem. What liquid supplements may help?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Uric acid deposits in tissues, especially joint tissue, are very painful, uncomfortable, and occasionally disabling. No cure is available yet, but underlying triggers can be modified and the condition can be controlled.

Uric acid often begins as crystals in our joints, causing inflammation in the affected joint(s). These deposits may reflect an elevated serum level of uric acid, from gout or chemotherapy or other conditions affecting the synthesis and metabolism of purine. Local flares of uric acid crystal deposition in joint tissue are referred to as gout.

Flares are usually managed by short-term or pulsed oral and/or injectable steroids to settle the acute swelling, the aggressive use of anti-inflammatory medication, especially indomethacin (an NSAID), and measures to lower the level of uric acid.

Restriction of purine intake (foods high in animal protein, especially red meat, and alcohol) is recommended and medications that encourage the renal excretion of uric acid (such as allopurinol) are often added after the acute episode is over. In the past, colchicine (a bark extract) was used for effective pain relief, but it has unpredictable significant toxicity (including death) in some patients, and should be reserved for selected cases with professional supervision. Occasionally selective joint aspiration and injection of a steroid preparation with a long-acting anesthetic will be used to treat acute pain.

There are no non- prescription liquid supplements that will reduce attacks of crystal deposition and gout. Some medications will actually precipitate gout, especially those containing supplemental amino acids or dietary supplements containing diuretics. Be sure to review all your pills with your doctor, whether prescription or non prescription. The local build ups of uric acid in tissue are called tophi. They are often surgically removed, especially if they are impairing hand or joint function, but the removal of tophi does not influence the frequency of disease flare-ups. Bracing is not usually recommended, though local treatment with heat, rest and elevation are often recommended in addition to prescription medications.

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