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Frustrating truths of living with gout

July 09, 2007

As a 69-year-old male who has experienced gout in my big-toe joints for 14 years, I appreciated your article very much ["Got Gout? Try Milk -- or Cherries," July 2]. After trial and error, I have isolated three events that trigger an attack in me.

Some years ago a friend joked that she had given her ex-husband gout. She is a health food believer and had given him a dose of Spirulina, a supplement that is supposed to boost energy. The next day, he couldn't get his shoes on.

Avoiding beer significantly decreased my attacks. (I can drink wine and hard liquor in moderation without consequence.) For me, only one swallow will do it. My belief was strengthened by another friend whose boss gets a gout attack every time his client arrives in town and they go to their favorite German restaurant and drink beer. About two years ago, the medical profession acknowledged beer as a culprit.

Keeping hydrated with lots of water helps another friend avoid attacks in his knees, so I try to stay hydrated.

The third cause for me is physically cramping my toe joints during activities such as prolonged driving with my foot in a cramped position, and squatting/kneeling.

Thanks again for the article.

PAUL WILSON

Camarillo

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I have suffered from gout attacks for more than two decades. It never failed to make its painful presence felt, especially whenever I was away in a foreign country.

However, for the last year, I have been free from such attacks due to the following steps I have taken to find relief: I take daily a dietary supplement of two capsules of black cherry concentrate. Additionally, whenever I feel the initial symptoms of pain in my ankle and toe joints, I take prescription Indocin (25 mg) for a couple of days, and the pain and swelling go away.

RAM PUTHRAN

Walnut

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I'm walkin' along Pearl Street in Santa Monica with a broken-heart song in my ears, but a big-toe pain worse than heartache. I have the gout today. I have had the gout come and go for the past 20 years and it shows no sign of ever leaving me completely.

Last week, I saw my fourth doctor since arriving in California two years ago. Two of them have had gout and have walked in my path.

Two weeks ago I could not ignore the fact that 30% of my big toe (right foot) hurts all the time and I was willing to go to any lengths to get to the bottom of what needs to be done.

I have tried alternatives like cherry juice, acupuncture and Boswellia, to no avail.

My last doctor made a suggestion to try a compound that cost $97, but it was of no relief to me.

The worst moment of pain I have ever experienced was a cortisone shot delivered into the joint of my toe. I cried and told the doctor to never do that again. By the way, it did not help one iota.

For years I have taken Allopurinol on a daily basis.

If I had an attack, my first go-to was Indocin, which wreaked havoc on my insides and gave me migraines, but it worked and really knocked out the pain.

Now all the doctors have me off the Indocin and moved me on to colchicine, which hasn't been as effective for me to relieve the pain of gout, but is easier on my stomach.

Some doctors tell me: As soon as the gout comes, lay off the Allopurinol and move to colchicine.

Other doctors have told me to stay on the Allopurinol and add the colchicine.

At this point I don't want relief from the severe pain as much as I would like a positive solution.

DAVID MORRELL

Santa Monica

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