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Gout symptoms: Should you walk with gout? Gout triggers and foods to avoid

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Despite its associations with historical banquets and over-indulgence, gout is a common form of arthritis in the UK. People with gout experience flare-ups or ‘gout attacks’ from time to time, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of a gout attack.

Gout is a painful form of arthritis; it isn’t often talked about, but it is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis.

Most common in men, and becoming more common the older you get, gout is caused by a build-up of urate in your blood.

Everybody creates urate when it breaks down purines, chemicals from certain foods, but high levels of urate can cause urate crystals to form.

Urate crystals form in and around your joints, making them extremely painful.

Sharp urate crystals fall into the space between two browns of a joint, where they rub against the synovium, the soft lining of a joint.

This is what’s known as a gout attack.

But, if you’re experiencing the symptoms of a gout flare-up, how active should you be?

Should you walk if you have gout?

The intensity of a gout flare-up can vary from person to person, so for some it may be physically impossible to walk if they have a gout flare-up in their foot, toes or ankle.

According to the NHS, if you’re experiencing a gout attack you must rest and raise the affected area.

The NHS also advise against putting any pressure on the joint.

This rules out walking if gout is affecting your foot, but if you’re experiencing gout anywhere else you should be able to walk and go about your daily activities, as long as they don’t aggravate the affected joint.

However, after your gout flare-up is over, you should definitely try to get your steps in.

Being overweight can put you at greater risk of gout; walking is a great way to keep trim, so staying active could reduce your risk.

The NHS recommends taking the following steps during a gout attack:

  • Take any medicine you’ve been prescribed
  • Keep the joint cool with a cold towel or an ice pack
  • Drink plenty of water, unless a medical professional has told you not to
  • Keep the affected area well-ventilated at night – avoiding covering it with pyjamas or heavy duvets

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What else should you avoid if you have gout?

If you have gout and want to avoid any flare-ups in the future, there are a few more things you ought to avoid.

As gout is caused by the urate acid created when you eat purines, you should try to cut down on the amount you eat.

Purine-rich foods you should eat less of include:

  • Red meat, game and offal
  • Seafood, particularly oily fish and shellfish
  • Foods rich in yeast extracts – such as Marmite
  • Processed foods and drinks.

Alcohol is also a well-known gout trigger and you should avoid drinking it to excess.

Beer is particularly high in purines, so could cause a gout flare-up.

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