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My experience – your advice please

Hi all,

Been having a look through all the old posts and some really useful info on there, thought I’d share my experience and see what you all think.

I’m a 34 year old male, not overweight and for the main part eat a healthy balanced diet. If anything I’d maybe say protein intake is higher than it should be, and I like a beer at the weekend. Never drink through the week and I may have 3 or 4 bottles of beer on a Friday & Saturday night, although more if going out.

I exercise regularly, gym 3 times a week usually and play golf at the weekend. I played football Saturdays & Sundays from a young age until my mid twenties, and then more recently played 5 a side once a week. Over the last say 5 years I’ve had probably 3 or 4 flare ups in my big toes from what I now perceive to be gout. At the time I had put it down to a sporting injury. The last time I had a flare up around 2 years ago I brought up the possibility of gout with the GP, who wasn’t so sure and referred me to a specialist (unfortunately I can’t remember what the specialist specialised in!), who took a look at the way I walk and said there was a slight imbalance in my walking pattern which meant I walked on the outside of my feet and that I should buy stiff soled shoes as I probably had a mild form of arthritis. I also went for a blood test but as the GP’s never came back to me with results and the pain had subsided I never thought anymore of it and got on with life.

3 weeks ago I awoke of a Monday morning to a stiff right ankle, I had gone over slightly on it the day before while out walking so put it down to that and thought nothing more of it. The ankle wasn’t painful but was certainly stiff and had restricted movement, this eased during the day and by the end of the day was pretty much fine. I was at the gym that week and didn’t really notice it. This continued throughout that week, walking on a morning to a stiff ankle which gradually eased throughout the day. On the Friday night I was at home watching football (the mighty Leeds) and noticed that my ankle was becoming more stiff and I had started limping more heavily when I was getting up. I had 3 bottles of lager that night (not sure if this made any difference or brought it on). I awoke around 2 am, ankle very swollen, red, hot to touch and very painful. I took some ibuprofen and managed to get back to sleep a few hours later. Over the course of the next 2 days I could hardly walk on it and self diagnosed it as gout.

Internet searches brought up lots of home remedies so I was straight on the cherry juice, baking soda and apple cider vinegar. The swelling and restriction of movement in the joint took until around Wednesday to calm down and I was able to get back to work, albeit limping heavily still.

Last Sunday I ventured out to do a bit of shopping, and was nearly limp free, the ankle just felt a little stiff, nothing more. That night the pain started again (not as bad as before) and I visited the local drop in centre who, after an xray, diagnosed it as a sprain. Said it would be painful as I’d walked about a bit that day. I decided it wasn’t and went to the GP’s on Monday. He said the symptoms definitely agree with gout, and looking at my records the blood test I did a couple of years prior showed a high UA reading (I need to find out what it was). He gave me Naproxen (I’m taking 500mg twice a day) and advised that most people will keep this on hand, if the have signs of a flare up then start taking straight away and should keep it at bay. If not and I am having regular flare ups then would look to put me on UA reducing meds, but didn’t want to do that straight away as it’s a lifelong thing.

I’m now 3 weeks on after the initial ankle pain, it’s still stiff and I’m still limping. The pain/stiffness has certainly moved from one side of my ankle to the other and moved up my foot a bit rather than the ankle joint itself. I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol for those 3 weeks and been trying to follow all the diet advice, as well as continuing with the cherry juice/apple cider vinegar/ baking soda. Wouldn’t be able to say if any of these has had a positive effect.

GP advised to wait a few weeks after symptoms clear up and then do another blood test. Also just found out that my Dad showed a high reading (around 8) on a blood test 2 years back, but he doesn’t experience symptoms.

Sorry for the essay, just hoping to get some pointers.

Thing that I have found strange is that the really painful part only lasted a few hours really, after that it was more stiffness in the joint and now it feels like more of a sprain than anything else. Is this normal? Also do people tend to get the build up a few days before the attack, or does it just come on straight away?

I’m going to get my bloods done and see how that turns out. How do people go about seeing a rheumatologist, is it a referral through the GP?

Thanks for reading, hoping to get this under control!