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There are over 200 types of rheumatic disease and over nine million people in the UK have some form of arthritis. Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. Most people with arthritis will experience pain and some difficulty in moving around.

Arthritis affects people of all ages, including children. It is not clear what causes it and there is no cure at present. However, treatment can largely alleviate the symptoms and enable people to continue to live an active life, although some modifications may be necessary.

Rheumatic Conditions FAQs

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Gout is an inflammatory reaction caused by a build up of crystals in the joints. It is quite often seen in the big toe, but it can also affect the ankles, knees, hands, wrist or elbows. The condition is treatable and affected joints will usually return to normal after an attack.

Gout is caused when uric acid, a waste product of the body which normally passes out of the body, accumulates in the joints. It occurs because some people either do not pass out enough uric acid, or they produce too much of it in the first place. When uric acid builds up in the body it can form crystals in and around joints, which leads to inflammation and pain. Affected joints will become swollen, red and extremely painful. An attack will usually only last for a few days.

Anti-inflammatory drugs will ease the inflammation and pain. You should not take aspirin because this increases the levels of uric acid in the body. In addition, some people will require drugs to lower the uric acid levels in their body.

Further attacks of gout may be prevented by limiting your alcohol intake, as alcohol can increase the uric acid levels. Certain foods, such as red meat (particularly offal such as liver and kidneys) can also increase uric acid levels and should be avoided. Losing weight (if you are overweight) and generally keeping fit is also important.